Around-the-clock LRT construction ticking off downtown residents

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Around-the-clock LRT construction ticking off downtown residents

Jackhammers pounding into concrete, heavy equipment rattling over gravel and workers shouting to be heard over the clang of construction.

During the day, the sounds of work on the Valley Line LRT near Churchill Square blend into the clamour of pedestrians, street performers and rush-hour traffic in downtown Edmonton.

But at night, after the streets have emptied of people, they don't always stop.

The city has granted a permit allowing construction to continue overnight on the Valley Line LRT near Churchill Square until Dec. 26, 2018. When the permit expires TransEd, the group in charge of construction, can apply for a new permit.

Around-the-clock noise is now grinding down the patience of some people living in Churchill Exchange Building above the construction site, said Steven Barlott, president of the building's board of directors.

"You never get that chance to relax and not have hydrovac trucks or heavy equipment beeping around," Barlott said.

When he bought his downtown condo five years ago, he said, he expected the daytime bustle of a big city.

His unit overlooks the intersection of 102nd Avenue and 100th Street, which has become a crux for recent Valley Line LRT construction near Churchill Square.

At night, Barlott said his floor sometimes vibrates and floodlights pierce the blinds of his second-floor windows. 

"There's always going to be noise and construction going on," Barlott said. 

"When it's in the working hours it's not quite as big an issue as when they're jack-hammering up concrete at two and three o'clock in the morning."

Barlott said he hopes the city will reconsider granting overnight noise permits for construction sites near residential buildings.

Noise waivers are issued for projects that involve essential services or activities that benefit the community, city spokesperson Chrystal Coleman wrote in an email statement to CBC News.

The special permits can also help reduce the impact of certain projects, for instance by allowing overnight construction so streets can remain open to traffic during the day.

"In all cases, we strive to strike a balance between commercial interest and public enjoyment of private property," Coleman said.

'This isn't the end of it'

TransEd, the consortium of companies in charge of Valley Line LRT design and construction, plans to complete the site by December 2020, said stakeholder relations manager Dean Heuman.

Overnight construction is sometimes necessary at locations needed for traffic during the day, Heuman said. The site near Churchill Square has been active overnight once, from July 11 to 13, for the installation of storm sewers, he added. 

"That's the only overnight work we have done that would affect the people at the Churchill Exchange [Building]," Heuman said. 

"It's not every night for weeks on end. We get in there when we have to and get the work done and then we try and leave."

More overnight projects are planned at the site before it is completed in late 2020, he said.

"I don't know what the next project is or how long it will last but this isn't the end of it."