Let's hope incoming NASA space shuttle Endeavour doesn't hit one of these babies on its road trip across Los Angeles.

Last night around 8 p.m., just as rush hour was about to die down, the pothole to trump all potholes was unearthed on the 405 North — right smack dab in the middle of Metro's latest carpool-lane construction zone.

Thus turning the evening commute into an impromptu Carmageddon II, far more dramatic than the real thing:

Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo says that somehow, the grate covering a storm drain in the far right lane was pushed a few inches down into the hole.

He estimates that about 10 cars sustained flat tires after smashing through the pothole at freeway speed.

The CHP, however, has its flat-tire count at 13. A spokeswoman says the Freeway Service Patrol helped the majority of the stranded drivers, AAA assisted a few others and “a couple changed their own tires.” (Good to know there are at least two badasses still living in Los Angeles.)

Construction crews, who were apparently getting ready to tinker with the Skirball Bridge for the night, called in Caltrans to shut down the lane and patch up the hole. According to Ubaldo, the faulty storm drain was as good as new by midnight.

But not before causing the backup of the century:

Total Traffic L.A. reported around 8:50 p.m. that as many as 30 cars had been ensnared by the evil storm drain, and that traffic on the 405 North was “jammed from Sunset Blvd.”

Metro insists the wayward grate had nothing to do with the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. But the timing and location are suspicious, to say the least.

CHP spokeswoman Charmaine Fajardo says that because the drain was in the No. 5 lane, the accident appears to have “something to do with the construction area. They shifted those lanes for construction.”

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