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Tires 'destroyed' by massive Calgary pothole, driver says

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While city crews remain hard at work patching many Calgary roads, a massive pothole on 16th Avenue N.W. created some very expensive problems for drivers on Thursday.

The large hole in the curb lane of 16th Avenue near Sarcee Trail burst the tires of a number of drivers who hit it.

When the drivers checked, they found bent rims and other damage.

"I thought I blew my front bumper out," said Emily Randal, one of the unlucky drivers who hit the pothole on Thursday.

"The road was wet but at the same time, I could still see this patch of repaired road."

Randal said she didn't think there was anything wrong but when she drove over it, she heard a loud bang.

She says she pulled over to the side of the road and found five other vehicles had also pulled over.

"Everyone asked me, 'How is your tire?'" she said.

When Randal looked at her vehicle, she found her rim had been bent inward.

"It was minor compared to everyone else's tires," she said.

"There was another car that had their tire completely shredded to bits.

"Five people's tires were destroyed."

Randal said one of the other drivers called police.

When police attended the scene, they put up pylons to mark the location of the hole so other drivers could avoid it.

"It hurts because you're just driving down a road – a patch of road you see repaired and you trust it – and then that happens," Randal said.

As of Friday morning, the spot seemed to have been partially fixed, but a fairly deep hole remained with pylons next to it.

City crews have filled 8,826 potholes as of May 16.

In April alone, more than 4,000 repairs were completed which, according to the city, is significantly higher than last year.

"Typically potholes form during freeze-thaw cycles in the winter months. As we saw more days around or above zero during the 2023-24 winter season, it's reasonable to expect that we would see an increase in reported potholes and our crews are working to respond," said Chris McGeachy with the City of Calgary's roads department. 

There have been 5,800 pothole requests that needed to be filled, and approximately 100 pothole claims received for damage compensation.

2023 was a record year for filling potholes, with crews patching 33,489.

The city encourages people to continue reporting potholes through its 311 app or by visiting calgary.ca/potholes.

Recurring issue

In March, Sunny Sidhu says he was driving along Stoney Trail and when he got onto 16th Avenue, he encountered the same pothole.

"I hit a pothole in the right curb lane," Sidhu said.

"Lost all the air from my tire immediately and I pulled over to the right shoulder. I got out of the car and saw the entire wheel had been dented and obviously the tire had blown."

He then pulled into a parking lot where he spoke with an individual who said they knew of someone else who had damage done to their car by the same pothole.

For Sidhu, the experience was "frustrating," leaving him with a bent wheel and blown tire, with both of his front ones having to be replaced due to alignment issues.

"I had to miss my meeting with my daughter's school," Sidhu said.

"I just believe that people responsible should be held responsible. Our citizens are paying fees, right? To expect service, right? They don't deserve to sit in their car and end up spending thousands of dollars."

His total damage came to over $1,150. 

Mechanical fixes 

Auto Surgeon, which operates out of the Southeast, has had to help several people who came in due to pothole damage. 

"I've probably seen so far, about maybe eight to 10 people coming in just because of pothole damage," said Auto Surgeon's owner Harman Bains.

According to Bains, the damage could cost as much as $4,000 to $5,000.

He says there isn't much you can do when you get behind the wheel to avoid the damage.

"There's no way around that even when we're driving on roads. You'll see that we got to swerve in our own lanes just to keep our cars in good shape," he said.

"Sometimes, it gets dangerous because we're going into their lane next to us."

(With files from Mason DePatie)

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