Southbound Highway 101 south of Buellton was reopened to traffic about 1 p.m. after it was closed Thursday morning when a truck towing a trailer struck a bridge railing and was left hanging off the edge.

California Highway Patrol officers responding to reports of the crash at 9:45 a.m. found a 2004 Ford F450 and trailer had jackknifed, with the cab of the truck hanging over the side of the bridge.

Driver Nicholas Sampson, 32, of Atascadero, the only person in the vehicle at the time of the crash, was wearing a safety belt and was not injured, the CHP said.

Sampson apparently lost control of the truck after a tire blew out near the Three Bridges south of Santa Rosa Road, according to the CHP report.

The truck broke through the concrete guardrail on the left side of the bridge, where it came to rest partially hanging off the edge and, with the trailer, blocking both southbound lanes.

Because of the size of the truck and trailer, specialized equipment had to be brought into lift the truck and clear the wreckage, leaving the highway fully closed for about three hours, the CHP said.

The right lane was reopened around 1 p.m., while the left lane remained closed so Caltrans engineers and repair crews could assess the damage and make temporary repairs to the guardrail.

While both lanes were closed, southbound motorists were detoured along Highway 154 through Los Olivos and Highway 246 through Buellton, Solvang and Santa Ynez.

Traffic was bumper to bumper and moving slowly all the way from the freeway in Buellton through Solvang and Santa Ynez to Highway 154. 

Traffic also was heavy on Highway 154 through Los Olivos and over San Marcos Pass to Santa Barbara.

The CHP was advising drivers of southbound big-rigs to either wait for Highway 101 to be cleared or go north to Santa Maria, then take Highway 166 to Interstate 5.

Complicating motorists' attempt to get around the crash was a diesel fuel spill on Highway 1 on the Las Cruces Grade south of Lompoc, which shut down that route to Highway 101.

The CHP said about 9 a.m. a semitruck with a dump trailer pulled onto southbound Highway 1 from a private road on the west side, and for an unknown reason the fuel hoses separated from the fuel tanks.

That caused the tanks to begin spilling diesel onto the roadway. 

When the driver saw the fuel spilling, he pulled to the right shoulder, the CHP said, but the roadway was closed for about four hours. 

Southbound drivers who attempted to get through on Highway 1 were stopped, then sent back to Lompoc by CHP officers.

In Lompoc, cars and big-rigs waiting to head south on Highway 1 were lined up along Highway 246 to South Seventh Street.

Highway 1 eventually was reopened to through traffic about 1 p.m. 

The crash on Highway 101 knocked out a section of the railing near where a gravel truck struck a BMW sedan carrying a mother and her two daughters Jan. 12, 2012, leaving the car dangling over the side.

The mother and daughters were eventually rescued, but the truck in that crash smashed into the creekbed 100 feet below, killing the driver.

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.