Located in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the busy off ramp from Interstate 35 and the terminus of Highway 65, a few blocks away from US Bank Stadium and the downtown financial district, is the historic Francis Drake Hotel. Built in 1926, the Drake Hotel was initially constructed as a luxury hotel; it now serves as a temporary residence for homeless families and individuals.
Despite its age, neither the hotel nor its underground infrastructure had ever been updated. In early summer 2017, a sink hole was discovered below 5th Avenue South, caused by a failure in the hotel’s side sewer and its connection to the mainline.
This sink hole presented a major problem for the traveling public as thousands of cars rely on this corridor daily. To make matters worse, a nearby bypass tunnel, which allows traffic to avoid the downtown area, had also been partially closed for unrelated repairs and maintenance. This forced even more commuters onto 5th Avenue South, the site of the sewer failure. Moreover, the cost for a traditional open-cut rehabilitation method was estimated to be approximately $45,000 for this single repair and take several days to complete, disrupting nearby businesses. Decision-makers from the City of Minneapolis determined that an extended closure of 5th Avenue South 5th for an open-cut excavation to replace the side sewer and mainline connection would not be possible.