After Uproar, MnDOT Returns Flags to Bridges
One week after KSTP.COM reported on an uproar over the removal of American flags from bridges, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) reversed course.
The Palmer Lake VFW in Brooklyn Park protested when flags were removed from bridges along Highway 610 and Highway 252 in the northwest metro. At the time, a MnDOT spokesperson cited safety concerns.
On Friday, MnDOT reinstalled the flags, citing a nuance in the law the Commissioner said required them to be removed, and allowed for them to be put back.
"By law, MnDOT must remove any type of device, advertisement or obstruction placed by private organizations that could interfere with traffic," said Commissioner Tom Sorel. "If MnDOT, not a private organization, purchases and installs the flags, the agency will continue to meet its safety and legal concerns, while being sensitive to public sentiment."
MnDOT installed flags on 11 bridges on Highway 610, Highway 10, and Highway 252.
Sorel said his agency received many complaints about the removal of the flags, saying most suggested that the American flag "deserves special consideration from state law."
While Friday's installation came in response to public pressure, Sorel defended the removal, again citing safety concerns.
"MnDOT's installation will ensure that the flags are secure and that anything that comes loose would land away from the roadway," said Sorel. "MnDOT is not willing to accept risk regarding roadway distraction or obstruction."