How construction surveys help provide better access

by | May 29, 2024

In recognition of National AccessAbility Week (NAAW), that runs May 26 to June 1, 2024, we at Rouse Surveyors would like to feature a very important construction surveying project we are excited to be working on, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Easier Access program. This program promises to make all the TTC stations accessible, so everyone can finally have barrier-free access to public transit.

National AccessAbility Week

Before we get into the construction project itself, you may be wondering what is National AccessAbility Week. It’s a week celebrated in Canada every year, starting on the last Sunday in May, that raises awareness about accessibility needs, and honours Canadians with disabilities. This special week has been an annual celebration since 1988.

It not only celebrates individuals who have shown dedication and leadership in breaking down barriers, but also the projects, organizations and communities that have helped improve accessibility and inclusion across the country, creating equal opportunities for everyone.

TTC Easier Access Program

The TTC Easier Access program is part of the TTC’s Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. The TTC has set a goal of making all its transit stations accessible for everyone, designating this the Easier Access program. This includes renovating and upgrading nearly every subway station in Toronto by adding more elevators, providing barrier-free accessible doors and entrances, closing the gaps between the platforms and the trains, and creating better signage with clear directions and braille features. This program is designed to meet the accessibility standards set out in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or AODA, passed by the Ontario government in 2005. The dream is to remove any barriers for people with disabilities making Ontario fully accessible by 2025.

The role of surveying

For us at Rouse Surveyors our role started between 2013 and 2018 when we provided construction layout and as-built services at the TTC Pioneer Village Station for Walsh Canada as part of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) project. This is a six-station, 8.6 kilometre extension of the Line 1 Yonge-University Subway from Sheppard West Station, through York University, and crossing over into York Region. We also mapped the southern loop of Line 1 for the TTC between 2015 and 2018.

In 2016 we were hired by the TTC to work on the TTC Easier Access project at College Park subway station. We were hired to prepare boundary surveys to set out and define the legal property boundaries, control surveys to create reference points on the construction site as a foundation from which to start, and topographic surveys to provide an accurate picture of all the existing features of the site. Surveys were prepared at grade level and inside College Park as part of the preparation phase before construction took place.

Later in 2020, we were then hired by Maystar General Contractors Inc. to prepare an updated pre-construction topographic survey, legal survey and construction survey for the existing structure and caissons at the exterior excavated side, to help establish alignment for the new elevator at each level.

3-D laser scans, one of the coolest offerings we have, were used to scan the concourse, mezzanine and platform levels of the station. This technology is incredibly fast and captures millions of data points, allowing us to provide greater accuracy and precision in our measurements. The impressive thing about laser scans is that they can be used in a multitude of construction projects, including heritage buildings. I’m sure the possibilities are endless.

Future Accessibility

Our construction survey team has been instrumental in the difficult construction layout work required to successfully bring all these projects and visions to fruition:

We are so pleased to have a longstanding relationship with the TTC. We have experience working with TTC drawings and control networks and have worked with them on various construction and rail projects. We have provided land surveying services directly to the TTC Engineering Department since 2015, and we look forward to many more opportunities to continue this great work in this great city.

It’s incredible to think how things have progressed since 1988 for accessibility. We know there is still a long way to go, but we are so proud to have had a role in making people’s lives a little bit easier to get to their destination free of obstacles. It’s a tremendous feeling of accomplishment to look at the final product and be able to say, “We surveyed that. We helped build that. We had a part in making people’s lives better and more accessible”.

About the Author

Leslie Gilbert

Leslie Gilbert

Leslie Gilbert is a communicator and environmentalist with over 15 years’ experience specializing in behaviour change communication. When not writing communications plans, web copy and social media content she can usually be found travelling, hiking or relaxing at the cottage with her family.

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Specializing in urban redevelopment, commercial land development, construction, heavy civil and infrastructure projects across Ontario.

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