MIDDLETOWN — With there being no apparent, permanent solution yet agreed upon, a veterans' group in this Monmouth County municipality became the first to apply for and receive a permit to display American flags on an overpass of a New Jersey Turnpike Authority roadway.

NJ.com reported that the Middletown Veterans Affairs Committee put up two U.S. flags on Wednesday over the Garden State Parkway at Red Hill Road. Two is the maximum number allowed on overpass fencing according to a temporary policy enacted by the Turnpike Authority more than a year ago, with no update having been announced since.

The flag controversy sparked just before the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the summer of 2020, when the Turnpike Authority admitted it had removed flags in Woodbridge, Robbinsville, and at other points up and down both the Turnpike and Parkway for safety reasons.

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At the time, state PBA President Patrick Colligan said some of the flags dated back to the hours immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Turnpike Authority's actions angered local police unions and veterans' groups. Gov. Phil Murphy told Harry Hurley of New Jersey 101.5 sister station WPG Talk Radio in Atlantic City that he had not been aware of the flag removal beforehand, and told Turnpike Authority staff to stop it.

Perhaps due to the lack of clearly stated, permanent rules, individuals and groups have continued to try to independently place flags on overpasses over the past year, including a group in Sayreville in the spring.

The application form pursuant to the current policy is on the Turnpike Authority website, along with a link to view the policy and process. Interested parties can also email FlagAuthorization@njta.com.

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