As San Diegans slowly inched their way back home after a long day at work, a sinkhole emerged on the eastbound I-8 freeway, sending water nearly 25 feet into the air last Thursday night. The water main break sent off a chain reaction throughout Mission Bay Park, creating two more sinkholes and slowing traffic down to a crawl. Drivers were forced to drive along the I-5 and 163 freeways to compensate for the closed roads.
According to California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the sinkhole was a result of rusted pipes along the I-8 freeway, that begins near San Diego State. The pipe was temporarily fixed as crews worked throughout the night and into Friday morning. Caltrans stated that they were monitoring the site of the break and their goal was to work toward a permanent fix soon.
One of the biggest side effects of these sinkholes was added traffic to an already busy commute off the peninsula. Natalie Mooney, a junior media communications major, couldn’t escape in time.
“I left school around 3:30 p.m. and didn’t get home (SDSU area) until 7:00 p.m.,” said Mooney. “It took me about two hours to get down to Nimitz and an hour to get to Midway. Every street in Point Loma was backed up.”
Sam Wisotsky, a 20-year resident of the Mission Bay area, witnessed the I-8 collapse and admitted he was amazed by the sinkholes and never saw anything like it before.
“I crossed the bridge on Texas street and noticed something on the eastbound lane; I saw flashing lights,” said Wisotsky. “As I came closer I saw that there was a torrential amount of water coming from the ground. I finally got off the freeway and headed down Morena where I was met with more sirens, lights, and water… the traffic was backed up and the cops weren’t sure how to direct this many people.”
Thursday’s events raised questions from locals concerned that this is only a foreshadow of what’s to come next. In another press release from last year, Caltrans warned that conditions related to El Niño could do significant damage to pipes throughout the city. Older pipes only mean we could see more of this in the future.