A Napa County Instragam trap is causing worries that it could become a death trap, and the county is considering moving its picturesque “Welcome” sign because of unsafe behavior by motorists and pedestrians seeking pictures of it.
Wine country visitors who trek north up Highway 29 to visit the wineries are routinely delighted by the landmark “Welcome to this world famous wine growing region Napa Valley” sign. This sign has greeted visitors since 1949. But in the smartphone and selfie era, the sign is apparently causing the unintended hazard of motorists just plain stopping in the middle of the road to snap pictures, pedestrians running across the the busy Highway 29 to pose by it, and other safety hazards caused by people eager to take pictures of the sign with little regard for road safety.
County supervisors poised to OK move of iconic Napa Valley welcome sign. Click the image for more info. https://t.co/a3GvpuEnvt— The Press Democrat (@NorthBayNews) January 8, 2024
There are no documented accidents, yet, but the Napa County Board of Supervisors wants to keep it that way. The Chronicle reports the board will consider moving the sign. (The Chron reports they were scheduled to discuss the item at Tuesday night's meeting, but the Santa Rosa Press Democrat has the update that “it was pushed off the agenda and will be taken up at a future meeting.”). The sign is currently stationed outside the outside Robert Mondavi Winery, and the trade group Napa Valley Vintners is urging the board to move it to another spot at Markham Vineyards north of Yountville, which has a turnabout spot.
Napa County Board of Supervisors vote 1/9/2024 to ask Caltrans to move the "Welcome to Napa Valley Sign," on Robert Mondavi Winery property since 1949, to private property next to a Caltrans staging area.https://t.co/wsPjxQDieJ— Kevin Dayton (@DaytonPubPolicy) January 7, 2024
People stop for photos & create safety hazards. pic.twitter.com/UGSV12Kwqg
“Up until fairly recently, it was innocuous,” Napa Valley Vintners VP of industry relations Rex Stults tells the Chronicle. “But with social media becoming so popular, it’s now become one of the must-visit places when you come to Napa Valley. I can’t think of a time during the day when there’s not people out front taking photos.”
The move would coincide with the construction of a Napa Valley Vine Trail, which hopes to complete “a 47-mile, walking & biking trail system connecting the entire Napa Valley - from Vallejo to Calistoga.”
The board’s vote would just be a proposal to Caltrans, and the Chronicle reports that Caltrans “would ultimately be responsible for deciding whether to move it.” Though the Press Democrat quotes a board of supervisors staff report that argues they don’t really need sign-off from Caltrans — but they do want consensus, saying “all parties desire to work together to improve the parking, traffic flow, and sharing of the site.”
There’s also another, identical “Welcome” sign for southbound travelers on Highway 29, about four miles south of Calistoga, but that sign has not caused any ruckus, and there are no plans to move it.
Image: Oleg Alexandrov via Wikimedia Commons