At Rutherford GO Station – How to build a structure to hold up a village worth of cars

The lots may be fairly vacant right now, but once life – and travels – return to normal, customers will appreciate work still taking place at stations. Among them is Rutherford GO Station, which is in the middle of major improvements.

When you need it most, you see a single open parking space at your GO station.

Metrolinx looks at it as something a bit bigger.

Take the effort to create 1,200 new parking spots for Vaughan commuters using the Rutherford GO Station.

GO lots may be empty right now, but customers will need the extra space when things return to normal.

A new six-storey parking structure will require a lot of concrete – approximately 4,000 cubic metres of it. But before any concrete pour can happen, the team has had to plan their schedule carefully.

For the most recent work, the plan involved 60 trucks that staggered their arrival starting at 6 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. for a full day of activity. The ideal condition for a concrete pour is mild weather; however, work can still proceed during cold temperatures as long as heavy rain is avoided.

After eight weeks, most of the parking garage foundations were poured, and the site was ready for a giant red crane to come in and do the really heavy work.

A man pours concrete into a hole.

In an image taken prior to social distancing, crew members pour one of the footings for the new Rutherford GO Station parking garage. (Metrolinx photo)

The crane’s job is to hoist precast pieces into place for the parking garage. Piece by piece, the precast structure is assembled, similar to how one might imagine building blocks stacked together.

A crane raises a large section of concrete.

In a file image taken before social distancing rules, a crane carefully lowers precast spandrel into place at the parking garage with guidance from the crew. (Metrolinx photo)

“Seeing the structure rise up from the ground is an extremely satisfying sight,” said Justin Clarkin, Metrolinx project coordinator. “The collective efforts of the team have led to the success of each milestone.”

A parking garage isn’t simply a concrete structure with lots of room inside. It’s engineered to hold a tremendous amount of weight.

Using beams and columns to construct the framework, ‘double tee beams’ are then used to support the heavy load of vehicles. The precast pieces create the base that is needed to hold the variety of automobiles that will eventually wait for owners to finish trips on GO Transit.

Large beams are seen on a truck.

Precast double tee beams are placed into the parking structure, supported by precast beams and columns. (Metrolinx photo)

The parking garage will be made up of 1,600 pieces of precast, with the crew installing up to 20 pieces per day.

“Using precast concrete is extremely beneficial for the schedule of project,” said Ashley Mustafa, EllisDon Infrastructure Transit (EDIT) project coordinator.

“Most of the precast is sourced locally from the plant in Windsor, Ontario, ready to be installed. We don’t have the wait times associated with cast-in-place concrete for activities like forming, pouring and curing, and precast installation can be done efficiently even during the cold winter months.”

Image is a graphic that points out there will be 1,200 new parkig spaces, six story parking structure, 4,000 cubic metres of concrete and 1,600 pieces of precast.

In addition to crane mobilization and precast erection at the station site, ongoing works at the parking garage include forming, rebar installation and pouring concrete for shear walls, footings and stairwells.

Once construction at Rutherford GO is complete, it will be easier for customers to get in and out of the station. For drivers, the parking structure will have a direct connection to the new station building. For pedestrians and cyclists, a pedestrian bridge will be built over Rutherford Road with dedicated bike lanes – providing more options for getting to the station safely.

The station will also have an upgraded bus loop for more seamless connections to York Region Transit along with an improved passenger pick-up and drop-off area.

A crane helps lift equipment.

Four of the six parking garage levels installed. (Metrolinx photo)

This construction is part of the GO Expansion program, which will transform GO rail from a rush-hour service to a two-way, all-day, rapid transit experience. GO Expansion includes more than 400 separate projects across more than 40 municipalities, and is the largest transit infrastructure program in Canadian history.

For more information on the Rutherford project, click here.

And to get updates sent directly to your inbox or phone by signing up for Rutherford On the GO alerts, click here.

Story by Teresa Ko, Metrolinx communications specialist with content from EDIT.