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Continued: The story behind Robbinsdale's great big sinkhole

  • Article by: BEN JOHNSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 23, 2013 - 4:54 PM

The burst water main is owned by the Joint Water Commission, a coalition of three cities — Crystal, Golden Valley and New Hope — that buy their water from Minneapolis. The Robbinsdale Police Department provided security for the site — it was, after all, the Robbinsdale Sinkhole.

Hennepin County got involved because the break occurred on County Road 9, and private contracting companies Northern Dewatering (water and sewage excavation), Valley-Rich (pipe repair) and C.S. McCrossan (repaving) worked on the repairs, in addition to a team of municipal workers headed by Mathisen.

In all, Mathisen estimates that there were 60 workers on-site initially, but that subsided to a daily number closer to 20 once repairs commenced. At this point, it’s still unclear who will be paying for what.

“How much reimbursement is due to us for our costs handling our emergency response and having to get the sand out of our sanitary main and storm sewer main has yet to be worked out,” said Marcia Glickman, Robbinsdale city manager. Glickman expects that the specific payments will be worked out through insurance companies. Total costs were estimated by Mathisen to be between $300,000 and $500,000.

Over the next two summers, a large section of County Road 9 east of Hwy. 81 is scheduled to be rebuilt, and the Water Commission already planned to replace the water pipes below that section of County Road 9 as part of the project.

Now, in addition to replacing the pipes, Mathisen hopes to purchase Smart Balls from Pure Technologies to help monitor leaks in the system.

Smart Balls are periodically inserted into pipes and record audio as they roll along. They can detect, record and pinpoint the location of minor leaks within 10 feet, according to the Pure Technologies’ website.

Mathisen hopes that aggressive maintenance measures like this will extend the life of the pipes and prevent another Robbinsdale Sinkhole from happening.


Ben Johnson • 612-673-4499


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