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The potholes on I-94 in Minneapolis are taking many prisoners

One tow truck company had 18 cars waiting for help on the side of the road.

One tow truck company had 18 cars waiting for help on the side of the road. David Joles, Star Tribune

Some Minnesotans might feel some small, secret sense of relief to see a big old pothole waiting for them on the road. To longtime residents, they're kind of like robins: a sure sign that spring is finally here -- at least for the moment.

But Minnesotans also know this: There are potholes, and there are car-eaters, bone-shakers, hungry, jagged mouths just waiting for an unsuspecting Nissan to come zipping by. On I-94 heading east from downtown Minneapolis, there are two such monsters lying in wait.

A pair of craters reportedly a foot and a half deep are ready to deliver a one-two punch to drivers heading just west of the Hiawatha exit. By the time you’re grinding through the first, it’s too late to avoid the second. And that means your tires are toast and you’re joining a mounting queue of drivers stranded on the side of the road.

Brad Solem has been working at Bobby and Steve’s Auto World in Minneapolis for about seven years now, and even he was impressed with these potholes’ destructive power. At one point, 18 cars were waiting for assistance on Sunday. Bobby and Steve’s has something like 30 tow trucks at its disposal. and they were still “30 to 40 calls behind.”

Solem helped 10 customers between Sunday and Monday morning. Most of them had two wrecked tires (right-hand side, of course). Those unfortunate enough to have all-wheel drive had to fix all four. 

Some folks from the Minnesota Department of Transportation went out to patch the place up, Solem says, but it wasn’t long before the pavement sank back down and undid all that work. It’s hard to fix anything for good while the weather is still cold and slushy. (The department didn’t respond to requests for comment.)

“This is a very bad year,” Solem says. Not only has a record-breaking February snowfall been eroding the streets, but road construction has been concentrating all the wear and tear in specific routes. 

Of course, Minneapolis drivers losing hope are welcome to take a spin on St. Paul's Ayd Mill Road. It may not improve the shape of your car, but it will make you count your city’s blessings.