I got my 2015 Volkswagen TDI Sportwagen in June and promptly named it Jolene because, well, I knew it was a cheater, but she was still so damn good-looking I couldn’t help myself. Jolene is still pretty, but she had her first run-in with America’s crumbling infrastructure this past weekend. Hours after warning Jalopnik’s Detroit auto show team to look out for potholes in my hometown, I hit a pothole.
This was annoying, time consuming and not cheap, but it could have been much, much worse.
This crash happened a few days after my flat, on Jan. 17 on the exact same ramp from I-96 to M-39 in Detroit. A driver lost control when his car slid on a patch of ice, and hit a tow truck hard enough to climb on top of it. Police told WXYZ the driver was going too fast for conditions, but the driver denied speed had anything to do with it. (This is of course a silly distinction made in law enforcement, since of course speed had something to do with on some level, because physics. Anyway, you get the point.)
Having braved this exit and suffered for it, I’m with the driver. This ramp sits high over several freeway interchanges, It is very steep and can quickly get icy before the rest of the freeway. It’s also falling apart, thanks to Michigan’s extreme weather and low investment in infrastructure.
The road is so badly damaged from high traffic and winter weather that I’ve seen multiple vehicles stacked up on this same stretch of shoulder at the same time. Luckily, it was just one car and tow truck damaged this time, and no one was hurt.
How much longer before someone is seriously injured or killed on this stretch of road before the spring patching crews can arrive however is anyone’s guess. I’m just glad it wasn’t me this time.