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Traffic snarled for hours after semi-truck crash on Hwy. 101

A semi-truck was destroyed and bridge railing heavily damaged after a crash on northbound Highway 101 at Higuera Street. Here, the remains of the truck are loaded onto a flatbed to be hauled away.
A semi-truck was destroyed and bridge railing heavily damaged after a crash on northbound Highway 101 at Higuera Street. Here, the remains of the truck are loaded onto a flatbed to be hauled away. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A tractor-trailer that crashed and burst into flames on Highway 101 late Wednesday night caused a nearly full day of traffic woes for motorists commuting through San Luis Obispo on Thursday.

At about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, a Peterbilt semi-truck and trailer was heading northbound on Highway 101 near the Higuera Street exit south of town when it drifted into the center median, crashed into a guardrail and struck a concrete overcrossing. The vehicle came to rest on the overcrossing, partially hanging over Higuera Street.

The truck then burst into flames.

The CHP said the driver, identified as Adrian Barriga, 25, of Santa Maria, was able to escape the cab and was not injured.

The accident left a trail of debris along the highway as well as the skeletal remains of the burnt truck. The bridge railing was also heavily damaged.

The CHP said Thursday that drugs and alcohol were not suspected to have played a role in the accident.

Officials closed a section of Highway 101 on Thursday, and because the truck was abutted against the damaged guardrail, they also closed the onramp to southbound Highway 101 from Higuera Street.

Northbound traffic was routed onto another section of Higuera Street.

During the morning traffic rush, the closures caused Highway 101 to back up from San Luis Obispo to Pismo Beach, and traffic on Highway 227 backed up to Oak Park Road. Motorists were also ensnared in traffic on Ontario Road and Price Canyon Road until early afternoon.

According to the CHP, traffic flow returned to normal at about 3 p.m. Thursday.

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