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Contractors ride Metrotown station and exchange upgrade to VRCA Silver Awards

Peter Caulfield
Contractors ride Metrotown station and exchange upgrade to VRCA Silver Awards
SUBMITTED PHOTO — At 10,400 square feet, the new Metrotown Station is twice the size of the original which was built in 1986. The station’s bus exchange was built in 1989.

Two local contractors have won 2018 Silver Awards of Excellence from the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) for their part in the Metrotown Station and Exchange Upgrade project.

The winners are Graham Construction and Engineering LP, in the General Contractors — $15-$50 million category, and Black & McDonald Limited (Mechanical Contractors — Up to $3 million).

TransLink’s Metrotown advanced light rapid transit station and exchange are at the centre of the eponymous commercial and residential development in southwestern Burnaby, B.C.

The transit stop is well used. Metrotown is the second-busiest SkyTrain station, with more than 50,000 passenger trips per day. And the bus exchange handles over 25,000 trips per day.

Before the upgrade, it was also, by west coast standards, a little long in the tooth.

The station was built in 1986 and the bus exchange three years after that.

Both facilities were having a hard time handling the constantly growing number of passengers who used them.

At 10,400 square feet, the new Metrotown Station is twice the size of the original.

The three-phase upgrade of the Metrotown station and exchange required a complex pedestrian management solution since 50,000 passengers go through it daily.
SUBMITTED PHOTO — The three-phase upgrade of the Metrotown station and exchange required a complex pedestrian management solution since 50,000 passengers go through it daily.

The three-phase upgrade had several components: A rebuilt east entrance and new centre and west station houses; four new pairs of up and down escalators; three new elevators and new stairs; more space on the platforms to enable the system to expand for future customers; improved station design with better lighting and visibility; an upgraded adjoining bus exchange; and a new bike parkade.

The project took almost four years to complete. Pre-construction began in September 2014; substantial completion took place in March 2018.

“It was the biggest station renovation in TransLink history,” said Vladimir Krotkiy, Graham’s senior project manager.

In March 2015, Graham began demolition work.

“Careful planning and reinforcement of the existing station structure were done before beginning demolition,” said Krotkiy. “That allowed the trains and passengers to have full access to the station throughout the project.”

As construction proceeded, the project faced several challenges, says Krotkiy.

“With an average of 50,000 passengers passing through the station every day, we needed a complex pedestrian management solution,” he said.

Graham created a temporary entrance to the central station house, and installed temporary stairs for passengers so that its crews and trade partners could work undisturbed.

To accelerate the construction schedule, Graham assembled loop trusses on the ground. They were later installed in four lifts when the transit wasn’t operating from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.

“Each truss weighed 140,000 pounds and was 220 feet in length,” said Krotkiy. Said the judges on the awards committee, “Metrotown SkyTrain station is the second-busiest station, so scheduling a significant update while keeping the station open was no small feat.

“Judges were impressed with how they went about fabricating and cladding the complex steel roof structure on the ground on then lifting up and into place in two pieces.”

Black & McDonald provided the full mechanical scope for the project, including plumbing, HVAC and fire protection systems.

“There are three entrances to the station,” said Black and McDonald senior estimator Trevor Langham. “Because so many people use the facility, we had to do the job by working on the three parts of the station separately, one after the other. We would close off one section, work on it, open it up again, and then move on to the next one.”

Langham says the biggest challenge Black & McDonald faced was doing all the work while keeping the station open for use and not interfering in its operation, and doing it all over a long period of time.

“All of our work was completed in a live automatic train environment, and we did it without disrupting Skytrain operations,” he said.

Black & McDonald’s work was spread out over three years — from early 2015 until spring 2018.

The judges of the awards committee were impressed that “Black & McDonald re-engineered the entire sprinkler system after it realized the as-built drawings were wrong and the existing system was not up to current code.”

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