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Sleep and clean streets, too!

Evanston residents awakened in the middle of the night by the street-sweeping machine rolling down their block may get some relief soon.

Public Works Director David Jennings told aldermen at a Budget Policy Committee meeting Monday night that he plans to ask them to approve switching street sweeping operations from a mix of nights and days to an all daytime program.

Alderman Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, said she’d really like to see the change. She said she’s gotten complaints from residents of her ward — especially those who live on corners and so are awakened by the cleaning of two streets.

“It’s a big problem, too, for young mothers with newborn babies who aren’t getting much sleep anyway,” Ald. Tisdahl said.

The city now spends on average $169 per year for each mile of roadway swept. It cleans some streets as often as 18 times a year, and others, where parking is especially tight, as little as four times a year.

Mr. Jennings said the current scheduling creates downtime for crews between the night and day shifts and costs the city about $30,000 annually in overtime charges.

He said that, if the council approves the schedule change as part of a larger review of streets and sanitation programs next month, he hopes to implement it next spring.

The street sweeping program is just a small slice of the public works budget, which overall totals 36 percent of total city spending.

Mr. Jennings said that in other muncipalities public works functions consume from a quarter to half of all muncipal spending.

However a study released Monday by the Chicago-based Civic Federation says the typical northeastern Illinois municipality spent 14 percent of its budget on public works.

A big factor in the size of Evanston’s public works spending is that it provides water service not just for its own 75,000 residents, but for 275,000 other people in several other municipalities.

“We’re the second largest water producer in the state, after Chicago,” Mr. Jenning said, “and treat over 16 billion gallons of water a year.”

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