URBANA — Main Street resident David Kraft is going to have trouble sleeping this week as construction crews repave several streets in downtown Urbana.
Kraft's complaint is that the city seems to be violating its own noise ordinance, but no one seems interested in enforcing it.
The city, meanwhile, says the street work is being done overnight to minimize danger and inconvenience for drivers and people who use downtown Urbana during the day.
"Sometimes we have to do work at night for the greater convenience of the public," said Bill Gray, Urbana's public works director.
The city's noise ordinance prohibits construction work within 600 feet of any residence during the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. This week, crews have been grinding away at Main Street between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. as part of a project that will repair the surface of that street, as well as Water and Race streets and Broadway Avenue.
It's a full week of nighttime work and not exactly a good dream for Kraft, who lives right above the work near the intersection of Race and Main streets.
"Mentally and physically, I'm not in good shape," Kraft said.
The city's construction noise ordinance does make an allowance for cases where "the use of such equipment or tools is necessary to address an emergency which, if left unaddressed, would cause or create harm, danger, or serious inconvenience to any person or property."
Gray said city department heads — specifically himself, the police chief or the mayor — can agree to waive enforcement of the ordinance in special cases. Street work in downtown Urbana is one of those cases "to minimize danger, to increase safety, to minimize disruption to the motoring public," Gray said. "For people who do their day-to-day work (in downtown Urbana), we do that work at night."
Kraft said he spent about 30 minutes on the phone with the police around 2 a.m. and said they seemed concerned about his situation — but they have been instructed to "stand down."
"I'm beyond frustrated," Kraft said. "People are willing to acknowledge that this is wrong, but no one is willing to do anything about it."
Gray said nighttime street work is very infrequent — the last instance he can recall was about 15 years ago — and the city is sensitive to the fact that it can disrupt the night for some residents.
There are few residents immediately adjacent to the Main Street road work, Gray said, but more will presumably hear the work when it moves near an apartment building on Water Street between Race Street and Broadway Avenue. There's another dense apartment building a few blocks south of the work at Illinois and Race streets.
Those residents — as well as area businesses — are notified of the work before it happens, Gray said. Kraft's is the only complaint of which Gray has been made aware so far.
"That's unfortunate; we are apologetic to that," Gray said. "But for the greater good, for the people we're serving, we choose to do that work at night."
Kraft said he was never notified, but he wants to work with the city to find a solution.
"I want to find something that will work," Kraft said. "I want to sleep."