SALINAS, Calif. (AP) _ ''Lady Liberty Jr.,'' a 20-foot-high plaster replica of the Statue of Liberty, was built to last for only one day, but she's surprised her creators by lasting a year and becoming a local landmark, too.

''Especially late at night, I know it's time to turn off the road when I see her standing there, like she's waving us off the highway,'' said Jeff Jenkins, 48, a Salinas-based truck driver.

''She's like a lighthouse on land for us,'' added Jim Taylor, 32, another truck driver, while eating dinner last week at Cindy's Restaurant across state Highway 101 from the statue.

The statue, whose perch is a rental equipment yard, was created for local celebrations last year commemorating the centennial anniversary of the Statue of Liberty's placement in New York Harbor.

John Rousseau and Lance Jacobson, stagehands at Grovement Theatre in Monterey, used a cardboard tube for a spine and plywood for ribs. Chicken wire, plastic foam and plaster make up her skin. She wears draped, unbleached muslin and a heavy coat of latex paint. It took eight days to build her.

''We designed her to hold up for one day. I'm surprised she made it to Salinas'' in the back of a pickup, Rousseau said.

The statue was used first at a Liberty Faire in Monterey and later at a similar celebration in downtown Salinas. Afterward, it was sent to A-1 Rents in Salinas for temporary storage.

''They were going to take it to the dump, but I told them I'd take it,'' said Gene Smith, manager of the rental company. He placed it alongside the highway.

''It kind of disappointed me at first that we couldn't find anyone who wanted her,'' said Rosie Michaels, a public relations consultant who helped organize the celebrations in both cities.

But Michaels said she's glad the statue is visible from the road, adding she often sees tourists making illegal stops to take photographs.

Rousseau admitted that the statute is no beauty.

''It's not a work of art, but I think it came out OK. Just hose her down and she'll be ready for the next Fourth (celebration),'' he said.

A church group has asked for permission to use the statue this weekend, but Smith doesn't think that's possible.

''She's been out there in the weather for a year, and you know she was really designed just to last for a day,'' he said. ''I don't think she'd survive the trip north.''