Potholes cause widespread car damage as more than 30 vehicles disabled on 71 Freeway in Pomona

Irene Cruz Image
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Potholes disable more than 30 vehicles on 71 Freeway in Pomona
More than 30 vehicles were disabled with flat tires and other damage after driving over large potholes on the rain-soaked 71 Freeway in Pomona.

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- More than 30 vehicles were disabled with flat tires and other damage after driving over large potholes on the rain-soaked 71 Freeway on Wednesday morning in Pomona, authorities said, as potholes caused devastating car damage all across Southern California.

The incident forced the closure of all northbound lanes on the freeway, between Rio Rancho Road and Mission Boulevard, shortly after 5 a.m., according to a California Highway Patrol incident log. No crashes or injuries were reported. It is unclear when lanes will reopen.

Traffic on the northbound 71 Freeway was backed up for miles as the morning commute got underway. More than two dozen damaged vehicles pulled over to the shoulder of the freeway.

One driver, Huynh Vu, said he was driving to work like he does every morning when his car was damaged by the potholes.

"I just saw cars that were bouncing, hitting the pothole. So I couldn't really avoid it," said Vu. "It feels like you're going off roading."

Vu said he drives on the 71 Freeway every morning, and that he had to wait more than five hours Wednesday morning for a tow truck after his car suffered major damage to the front and rear.

"I don't know if this really can be avoided so just be careful. Just drive slow," said Vu.

Caltrans says it is working around-the-clock to fix the potholes, which it blames on the recent rain impacting Southern California.

"The rain is causing the potholes," said CHP Officer Joseph Davila. "Along with all the traffic that goes through the area. Caltrans is continuously trying to repair the potholes."

Officials from Caltrans also said that they will cover car damage from potholes up to $10,000, but you will have to prove that it was the pothole that caused the damage.

Elsewhere, on the 210 Freeway westbound toward Rosemead, another pothole tore through drivers' tires, causing cars to pull over and wait for a tow truck to take them to the repair shop.

Caltrans offers up to $10,000 in damages for potholes disabling cars on SoCal's freeways, including more than 30 vehicles on the 71 Freeway in Pomona.

"It was just like a big hole, but it was crazy," said Taylor, a driver whose car was damaged after running over a pothole. "I've been stuck here for an hour already."

The 71 Freeway closure occurred while a flood watch was in effect for parts of Los Angeles County including the San Gabriel Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Malibu coast and county beaches, downtown L.A., San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel mountains.

Heavy rain is sweeping through the region on Wednesday. The storm is expected to taper off by the afternoon.

Heavy rain and excessive runoff may result in dangerous flooding of rivers, creeks, streams and flood-prone locations, the National Weather Service said.

Dry weather is expected to return Wednesday night through at least Friday, with a chance of light precipitation over the weekend.