Large potholes — worsened by a series of historic storms — damaged about 30 vehicles on the northbound lanes of the 71 Freeway in Pomona early Wednesday morning, officials said, forcing the California Highway Patrol to shut down the freeway for hours until repairs could be made.

At one point, there were so many vehicles with flat tires and damaged wheel rims near the Holt Avenue exit that some drivers couldn’t find space on the shoulder to pull over, said CHP Officer Joseph Davila.

Rain always poses a driving hazard, including the chance of creating more potholes and expanding existing holes in the pavement. California was hit this week by it’s 11th atmospheric river storm of the season, dropping heavy rain and snow on an already soaked state.

“It’s been something that’s been popping up during every storm,” Davila said.

However, Wednesday’s long line of damaged cars on the side of the road set a new standard, he said.

“This has been the worst so far,” Davila said.

Officers began receiving calls of damaged vehicles near Holt Avenue at about 4:10 a.m. When officers arrived, about 20 vehicles were already pulled over on the shoulder, he said.

“They had various damage to their vehicles — mostly to their tires and rims,” Davila said.

No injuries were reported, but officials decided to shut down the freeway. Drivers were being diverted off Holt Avenue and allowed back on the freeway at the next onramp.

The cause of the damage appeared to be about five large “crater” potholes all within a short distance of one another, Davila said.

“They weren’t just little ones,” he said.

At least one of the potholes was about 4 feet across, he said.

Northbound lanes were shut down until at least noon while Caltrans crews worked to repair the road, Davila said. One lane on the southbound side of the freeway was also blocked for repairs as well.

Salvador Hernandez

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