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UPDATE: 'Giant' sinkhole along interstate expected to snarl Twin Cities traffic til Friday

A water-main break in in Oakdale on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, created a “giant” sinkhole on Interstate 694. Courtesy photo / City of Oakdale1 / 4
A water-main break in in Oakdale on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, created a “giant” sinkhole on Interstate 694. Courtesy photo / City of Oakdale2 / 4
A water-main break in in Oakdale on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, created a “giant” sinkhole on Interstate 694. Courtesy photo / City of Oakdale3 / 4
Interstate 694 in Oakdale remains closed Monday afternoon as crews work to repair a water-main break underneath the freeway on Dec. 4, 2017, that caused a giant sinkhole. (Mary Divine / Pioneer Press)4 / 4

OAKDALE, Minn. -- A water-main break that caused a leak of more than 1.5 million gallons of water and shut down Interstate 694 in both directions in Oakdale in the eastern part of the Twin Cities could take until Friday to repair,  Minnesota Department of Transportation officials said

“The first thing we need to do is find the leak and repair that, and then we begin to work on the roadway,” MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said during a press conference Monday at Oakdale City Hall. “We can’t begin to do road repairs until they’re pretty close to being done with water-main repairs. We want to get it fixed, and we want to get it fixed right.”

City crews will be working “around the clock” to replace the 12-inch main under the highway, said Shawn Nelson, the city’s utility superintendent.

The water main was installed in 1964 — before I-694 was built — but age is not believed to be a factor in the break. “The water main was severed inside the casing and then flowed out of the casing,” he said.

Between 1.5 million and 2 million gallons of water were lost as a result, he said.

An Oakdale resident called police about 9 a.m. Sunday to report the leak after discovering water in her backyard. Nelson said crews had received an alert about three hours earlier that “water pressure was lowering.”

“We were out trying to find where that was coming from,” Nelson said. “We knew it was a big issue because of the large amount of water being drawn out of our system. We just went kind of treasure-hunting to where that was.”

Water service had been restored to all but 10 homes in the city Monday afternoon; about 35 houses lost water service for several hours on Sunday and about 6,000 houses experienced a loss of water pressure, Nelson said. There are about 11,700 households in the city.

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