Santa Rosa, CA – October 23, 2018 – The County of Sonoma Department of Transportation and Public Works (TPW) today announced an innovative partnership with Sebastopol artist Patrick Amiot to create two six-foot-eight-inch vultures that will be mounted on a mast arm over Laughlin Road to discourage long semi-truck traffic between River Road and North Laughlin Road. A series of incidents of trucks getting stuck on the one lane bridge near the intersection with North Laughlin Road and causing damage to public property, forced road closures, and disturbing nearby residents, led officials to explore the creative solution. A special gathering of County officials, artist Patrick Amiot, and media will take place on October 31 at 9 a.m. to inaugurate the new Laughlin Road Artistic Warning Sign.
“Any time we can improve safety while being resourceful and engaging community talent is a win for Sonoma County,”
Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and District Four Supervisor, James Gore, said. “I applaud TPW for their ingenuity and commitment to maintaining our investment in quality services and infrastructure.”
“It’s always a pleasure when one of our own gets recognized for their positive contribution to the community,”
District Five Supervisor, Lynda Hopkins, said. “
While Sebastopol’s Slow Down Cat may have started a movement, Patrick has outdone himself with these two warning vultures. It’s a great example of finding community-based solutions to complex problems.”
“I would like to thank Kristen Madsen and Johannes Hoevertsz, and the Department of Transportation and Public Works team, for giving Brigitte and me a chance to share our work,” artist Patrick Amiot said. “Hopefully no semi-truck will venture on the narrow bridge and everyone else that drives Laughlin Road will get a big smile every time they see the birds staring at them.”
“This is local government working alongside the community to find original and sustainable ways to get things done,”
TPW Director, Johannes J. Hoevertsz, said. “We believe the vultures offer a fun and cost-effective solution to an ongoing problem in a way that is unique to Sonoma County and mixes art and engineering to implement a traffic control measure.”
“This project is a fantastic example of how creative minds can use public art to solve municipal challenges. And to do it with a sense of humor is just an added bonus,”Director of Creative Sonoma, Kristen Madsen, said.
On February 25, 2014, the County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to prohibit semi-trailer trucks longer than 38 feet from traveling the road, in order to limit damage and provide enforcement agencies the ability to issue citations to drivers. Each occurrence of trucks getting stuck on the bridge results in extended closure of Laughlin Road causing an inconvenience to motorists and residents, and a cost of approximately $15,000 to extricate the disabled vehicle. TPW officials have also approached GPS mapping organizations to make them aware of the issue and request their support in dissuading truck drivers from taking the route.
In addition to the new artistic warning sign, TPW officials are installing five supplemental warning signs at the northern and southern approaches to the bridge advising drivers. The Laughlin Road Artistic Warning Sign is part of a larger effort by TPW to engage County communities in its work, including additional local artist projects in the unincorporated area of Boyes Hot Springs and at various bus stops along the Sonoma County Transit public transportation network.