A pothole in the middle of the southbound 5 Freeway to the eastbound 10 Freeway transition road causes tire damage to dozens cars. Drivers wonder who pays for the damage and how to file a claim. Reggie Kumar reports from Boyle Heights for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013.
A large pothole on a transition road east of downtown Los Angeles damaged more than 30 vehicles and slowed traffic for nearly six hours Tuesday as drivers exited their vehicles to warn commuters of the hazard.
Caltrans: Filing Damage Claims | Phone: 213-897-0816
Tires and wheels on several vehicles were damaged after striking the pothole, possibly caused by a semitrailer crash on the road Monday night. The road was patched ovenight, but a 3-foot wide hole developed by Tuesday morning on the transition road from the southbound 5 Freeway to the eastbound 10 Freeway (map).
Hubcaps jolted loose after striking the pothole were scattered across the road. At least 30 vehicles, many with flat tires, appeared to be disabled on the side of the transition road.
Vanice Scott, of Lancaster, was one of several drivers who ended up with a flat tire and pulled to the side of the road.
"All of a sudden, I just hear, 'boom boom,'" said Scott. "I almost lost control of the car. Lucky I made it over to the side.
"It was like a chain reaction. Everybody just kept hitting, pulling over. Hitting, pulling over. Hitting, pulling over."
"It was still pretty dark, so you really couldn't see the road, and it just came out of nowhere," driver Erica Zaimes said.
Traffic on the interchange was blocked as Caltrans workers arrived to repair the damaged road. The transition reopened about 2 p.m., after five and a half hours.
The damage exposed steel bars, known as rebar, that reinforce the road's concrete. A Caltrans official said the constant traffic on the connector -- about 300,000 cars a day -- may have worsened damage to the connector and caused the roadway to split.
I-Team Investigation: Dodging Pothole Payouts
The CHP is investigating whether the damage is connected to a big rig that overturned after a crash with a cement truck Monday night on the road.