Developing: Flooring company, TxDOT reach compromise on flag dispute
UPDATE: TxDOT and the owners of Summer's Abbey Flooring Center have reached a compromise on removal of flags lining the State Right of Way on Highway 365 following a citizen's complaint. TxDOT spokeswoman Sarah Dupre says the owners will remove the flags closest to the main lanes of FM 365 and the remainder of the flags will come down after the July 4 holiday. It's part of an annual display and flag giveaway the company puts on each year.
TxDOT: "We have spoken with Mr. Johnson from Summer’s Abbey Flooring Center. He has recognized our immediate concern of safety regarding the flags. He has agreed to remove the flags closest to the main lanes of FM365 which carries the majority of the traffic. The remainder of the flags will be removed following the holiday. Going forward, we will collaborate with Mr. Johnson on any future displays that may be near the State Right of Way."
Public Information Officer
Texas Department of Transportation
TxDOT says the flags pose a safety hazard and need to be removed from the state right of way at Highway 365 and Highway 347 in Port Neches, and from the median, although Summer's Abbey Flooring Center is free to put the flags on its own property in front of the Port Neches business.
TxDOT says the flags pose a distraction to drivers and a safety risk because the agency says they contain PVC pipe and could harm a driver if someone struck the flags.
The company has placed flags along part of the highway for years, and it has given away thousands of flags to people in the days leading up to July 4. The company says it'll remove the flags from the Right of Way and median Tuesday but continue to give away flags Tuesday and July 4.
The company posted a statement on its Facebook page that reads:
"It is with a heavy heart that we post this...but today will be the last day that the United States flags will line the road in front of our business. Unfortunately, someone made a complaint to TXDOT about the flags and they are making us remove them. We can't tell you how much it has meant to hear stories, read comments, and receive calls from people to express how much they loved seeing the flags up for holidays. We will still be handing out free flags Tuesday and Wednesday and want everyone in Southeast Texas to stop by and pick one up. They may be able to make us remove them from our road, but we hope this encourages even more people to fly it proudly in front of their home. Our annual flag giveaway will still continue annually for July 4th. We won't let one person's complaint stop our goal of painting Southeast Texas in red, white, and blue! We hope each of you have a happy Independence Day and God Bless America!
- Chris, Pam, & Summer Johnson and all of the staff at Summer's Abbey Flooring Center"
The Texas Department of Transportation's Sarah Dupre has released a statement to KFDM/Fox 4 News:
"After receiving a call from a concerned citizen, an employee from our Port Arthur maintenance section visited the Abbey Flooring Center and observed several flags installed along the roadway and the median of FM 365. The flags were posted in the state right of way which is prohibited due to safety issues. Our employee asked the business to remove the flags from the median and to move the flags off the state right of way and onto the business's property."