A sign of progress at Cooksville GO Station garage – What it takes to raise up a banner that weighs as much as a small car

Many customers see those huge GO Transit signs at their nearest stations. But how do you safely construct something that’s made to survive Canadian weather?

Hold your laptop computer over your head.

Now stand on your front porch and don’t move, no matter the weather, for, say, five minutes. Or years ahead.

Keeping something elevated isn’t – despite all the urban things around us – an easy task. And since EllisDon, the contractor for the Cooksville GO Station Redevelopment Project, has just safely completed a critical lift of an iconic GO Transit sign at the new GO Station parking garage – above the building’s 78-foot glass stair tower – we thought you might be interested in the images and process.

Because, keep in mind, the sign doesn’t just have to be put up, but has to stay up for years to come.

Measuring approximately six metres by three metres tall, the GO sign weighs more than 2,000 kgs. It’s now positioned at the southeast corner of the parking garage, overlooking the public plaza and station building, which is still under construction.

The iconic green GO letters sit on a flatbed truck waiting to be installed.

EllisDon recently completed a milestone lift at the new Cooksville GO Parking Garage that is getting closer to completion. (Brian Main photo)

Few customers will see it now during the COVID-19 pause, but it will become a bit of a community transit beacon once society gets moving again.

The sign is LED illuminated and will serve as a wayfinding beacon for GO Transit customers to access the Cooksville park and ride, off Hillcrest Avenue.

With a crew of 10 workers, the lift recently took six hours. The sign was erected using a 35-tonne all-terrain crane.

A crane prepares to lift the GO sign support structure into place

It took a team of workers several hours in the harsh winter weather to get the sign installed (Brian Main photo)

The procedure began with a safety briefing for the crane operator and all workers involved. Establishing communication using two-way radios and hand signals was an essential component for safety.

Next, the crane operator moved into location and slowly raised the sign into position. Workers guided the sign towards the support connections and when in place, signaled to the crane operator to take partial weight off the sign so that the remaining connections could be bolted and tightly torqued. Once the sign was secured to the overhanging structure, the crane operator lowered the boom. Finally, electrical wiring for the sign was installed from a special lift and from the roof of the stairwell.

Photo of the GO sign getting installed on the new parking garage at Cooksville GO

The GO sign letters are more than six metres by three metres tall, and weighs more than 2,000 kgs (Brian Main photo).

Manager Liz Oldershaw said the success of the lift was a result of EllisDon’s specialized equipment, combined with a highly skilled team of people who take safety seriously.

“We are more than 75 per cent done (with) this station redevelopment and this sign lift highlights major progress in our schedule,” she said.

“Working in close partnership with EllisDon and the community, we’re one step closer towards Cooksville’s completion.”

The Cooksville GO Station is undergoing a major transformation, including constructing a new station building, the parking garage, a pedestrian bridge to the train platforms, new bus bays for GO and MiWay bus service, a public plaza, east pavilion building, platform replacement, parking lot upgrades and other amenities.

A specialized crane lifts the 'G' that will spell GO into place on the parking garage at Cooksville GO Station

A specialized crane lifts the ‘G’ that will spell GO into place on the parking garage at Cooksville GO Station (Brian Main photo)

The new parking garage holds 1,900 parking spots, and includes accessible parking on the first and fourth floors. The first four floors of the garage were opened to customers last fall and the remainder of the parking garage will be opened later this year.

By the end of 2020, it will be easier and more convenient for customers to access GO services at Cooksville. In the future, this station will also include connections to the Hurontario LRT Line.

To sign up for project updates, email PeelRegion@metrolinx.com or visit us at Metrolinx.com.

Story by: Noelle Wannamaker, Metrolinx community relations and issues specialist