Highway 49 traffic stopped by big rig wedged on rock wall

Broken drive train complicates clearing accident scene
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Eastbound traffic was detoured for more than an hour Saturday morning away from the Highway 49 drop into the American Canyon in Auburn after a tractor-trailer rig became wedged onto a crash-prone rock wall. Chipped and damaged many times from accidents over the years, the wall's wedged outcropping had been smoothed and repaired this past week by a Caltrans crew. But a truck proceeding toward Auburn along the narrow, two-lane roadway just down from the Lincoln Way traffic light couldn't make the turn and ended up grinding against the rock wall. The accident took place just before 9 a.m. and traffic into the canyon was soon being detoured. Traffic was moving in both directions again by 10:40 a.m. The closest detour route is along Foresthill Road to Old Foresthill Road, which meets Highway 49 again at the American River confluence. Uphill traffic that could pass through the eight-foot opening in the road was allowed through but several larger vehicles, including motor homes and a larger truck were held until the big rig could be towed away. The truck's drive train was reportedly broken, which precluded a simple tow off the wall. A larger tow vehicle made for tractor-trailers was brought in to take the rig away. Shelley Lorello, whose home is just off the road, said that she wondered why Caltrans didn't move the wall back rather than repair it. "It's a nuisance," she said. The rock wall has been hit several times in the 12 years she's lived in her house. "This truck was too big to get around it," Lorello said. "Why they did that and put it back the way it was is beyond me." The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at or (530)852-0232.