I-694 won't reopen until Friday—or later—after hole opens in Oakdale

- It could be Friday or later before a big section of I-694 reopens in Oakdale, Minn., after a water main break Sunday opened a large hole beneath the roadway.

Crews are classifying the problem as a “washout” rather than a “sinkhole,” but say fixing it is both a challenge and a priority due to an estimated 87,000 cars that use the highway every day.

“We will work around the clock until this is repaired,” said MnDOT's Director of Communications Kevin Gutknecht.  

Shawn Nelson, Utilities Superintendent for the City of Oakdale, estimates the hole is 18 to 20 feet deep after two million gallons of water washed away a large chunk of soil underneath I-694.

“It just comes out of nowhere," Nelson said. "We don't know when it's going to happen but it does happen and we just get through it.”

The 12-inch-diameter pipe was installed in 1964. 

“We're going to find out what the problem is," Nelson said. "Our early speculation isn't really that the age had any effect on it. And like a number of places around the community, we have a similar status in other water mains we have around the community, we have similar issues."

For several hours after the break, about half of the Oakdale community lost water or water pressure. By Monday afternoon, water had been restored to all but 10 households. 

Nelson does not believe the winter weather system moving in Monday will not have an impact on their work schedule. 

“It's not our first rodeo with the weather," Nelson said. "We do this in the middle of winter, we do this in the middle of summer. So really the weather isn't going to play a factor, we know what we have to do at the end of the day."

MnDOT is asking drivers to use the following detours: Northbound traffic should detour heading west on I-94,  north to 35E; southbound traffic should take Highway 36 west to I-35E and head south to I-94. 

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