Overnight Valley Line LRT construction leaves residents sleepless
'I get the feeling people in our building are very tired,' says one man living downtown
The construction noise started on April 2 at around 9 p.m., just as Jesse More was getting his lunch ready for work the next day.
By the time he was ready for bed, the noise hadn't diminished.
"It's been jackhammering...excavation, cutting concrete with a big concrete saw. There's been a vacuum truck running for hours and hours and hours," More said.
"It's incredibly disruptive."
More lives in a building at 102nd Avenue and 97th Street, where construction of the Valley Line LRT has been in full swing for months. He expects — and is accustomed to — a certain amount of construction noise in the area.
But the overnight work that started last week has been too much. His apartment windows are located about 10 metres from the construction site.
When he realized the construction work wasn't going to stop, More got onto his computer and realized other residents were also awake — many typing messages on the building's Facebook page about the noise and what they could do about it.
More has called 311, his city councillor, and TransEd, the company working on the first stage of the Valley Line LRT project.
When he spoke to a TransEd employee, "she was very apologetic. But when I pressed a bit more, and said, 'What are we going to do with our concerns?' The answers were more like, 'We're looking at it.'"
Permits for overnight work
At the end of March, TransEd posted a notice on its website warning residents of upcoming noisy overnight work at the 97th Street and 102nd Avenue intersection.
The company noted that it had obtained an overnight road work permit from the city.
Dean Heuman, who is managing stakeholder relations for TransEd, said builders consider logistical factors such as traffic rerouting and the length of the disruption before deciding to seek permission to work overnight.
"We don't do this very easily or very often, unless we feel like we absolutely have to," he said.
With numerous road closures in the near vicinity already in place, it would be difficult to impose another daytime closure, he said.
The first stage of work involved smashing through asphalt and another concrete-type material in order to reach the pipes below. Now crews are doing drainage work at the intersection.
"The first couple of nights, whenever we do removals, that's always the worst part of it. Then you start actually laying in new pipe," the TransEd representative said.
Heuman predicts about another 10 days of work at the intersection. He said there will still be noise but it shouldn't be as disruptive as last week.
There is more overnight work happening for the Valley Line LRT in other parts of the city right now. But Heuman said it's been relatively rare that crews have done overnight work for this project so far.
"It's a hugely challenging thing and we totally understand residents are upset. We try to inform them ahead of time, we try not to do it for a very long period of time [and we try to] get in and out as quickly as we possibly can."
Apartment dwellers still lacking sleep
More said he understands that major construction projects are going to be disruptive to businesses, to traffic, and to residents.
But, right now, he feels like "we're feeling the real brunt of the disruption."
More questioned if overnight work should mean that residents could be compensated in some way.
Fellow resident Sean Trayner described the noise as "the loudest disturbance I've ever heard near the building."
"I'm running very low on sleep and I'm feeling a bit checked out," he said. "I get the feeling people in our building are very tired."
The city has issued 33 noise permits for various projects this year. Noise waivers and permits are only issued for projects that involve essential services, the installation of essential infrastructure, or for activities that benefit the community at large.