MnDOT: I-694 near Oakdale to be closed all week - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

MnDOT: I-694 near Oakdale to be closed all week

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(KARE) -- The work continues on I-694 in Oakdale, where crews have been working around the clock to fix a massive sinkhole in the highway.

Monday afternoon city officials gave an update on their progress. 

"We expect to have the water main fixed by Friday," Oakdale Utility Superintendent Shawn Nelson says.

However, when it comes to reopening I-694, MnDOT Communications Director Kevin Gutknecht says they really don't know when that will happen.

"We realize this is inconvenient for the public and we apologize for that," Gutknecht says. "But we want to get it fixed right."

Gutknecht says most of the work that needs to be done to I-694 can't start until the water main is fixed.

That means the estimated 87,000 commuters who drive this stretch of highway every day will be forced to use detours at least until Friday, likely even longer.

MnDOT closed traffic in both directions from the sink hole starting around 10:00 a.m. Sunday after city workers in Oakdale discovered the water main break.

The city's system first noticed a problem with water pressure levels around 6:00 a.m.

However, they weren't able to track down the source of those problems until a homeowner reported seeing water gushing out of a hole on I-694.


A water main break in Oakdale created a big sinkhole under Interstate 694 on Sunday.   (Photo: John Croman, KARE 11)

Throughout Sunday crowds of onlookers gathered on the 15th Street Bridge to watch crews, as they raced to pump water from the hole in the median of the interstate and fill it with gravel.

The driving lanes were still intact, but the soil and gravel beneath the pavement had been compromised by the water released from a broken pipeline in the area.

"Water definitely washed out the substructure underneath the roadway, which of course would make it unsafe," Kevin Gutknecht, MnDOT communications director, told reporters.

"So they may have to take out some of the actual roadway just to fix the substructure."

Gutknecht urged motorists to follow the posted detours, rather than cutting through local streets, and to allow extra time during the morning commute.

"It’s gonna be difficult for people who use this road to commute to work," Gutknecht explained. "That’s a lot of traffic. People need to plan ahead, give yourself more time."

He said once the substructure is compacted to interstate standards the lost pavement will be replaced, most likely with asphalt rather than concrete, because of the cold weather in the forecast.

Some Oakdale residents lost water, and city crews could be seen delivering bottled water to nearby homes and townhomes on Sunday evening. Even residents who still had tap water were being urged to conserve water until water pressure returned to normal.

"The water is safe to drink, and we just want you to conserve water until the water system to become stabilized again," Oakdale Police spokesperson Michelle Stark told reporters.

"The wells are refilling, and pressure stabilizing is underway." 

Stark said Oakdale public works managers are still investigating what caused the water main break. The first clue came when automatic sensors at the city's water tower detected water levels were dropping too quickly and sounded alarms.

Suggested detour route

MnDOT is suggesting that northbound 694 traffic should detour west on I-94 and then north to 35E, which eventually intersects with 694. Southbound motorists are advised to take Highway 36 west to 35E and then head south on 35E to I-94.

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