HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Port Authority officials say they will spend the money -- $10,000 in overtime -- to keep the American flag flying from the George Washington Bridge on future Independence Days.

The bistate agency took the flag down midday on July 4 to save on overtime costs, but some who had grown accustomed to seeing the flag fly into the night complained. Officials said Friday they will keep Old Glory in place a full day.

The $10,000 cost -- roughly what 835 drivers would pay in tolls to cross the bridge -- funds the 10 employees needed to unfurl and retrieve the flag, agency spokesman Steve Coleman said.

"It's from bringing them in on a day off," Coleman said. "They're being brought in on a holiday."

The flag operates on a boom, and lowering and retrieving the 450-pound banner is a labor-intensive, manual process done by trained staff, he said. The flag must also be monitored while it hangs, with workers at the ready to retrieve it if heavy winds or rain develop.

"We need people to raise the flag at a moment's notice," Coleman said, adding that it takes 30 minutes to raise the flag.

Last year, the flag was also displayed for one eight-hour shift. However, it was up from 3 to 11 p.m., when many people are headed into the city for the fireworks display and other celebrations.

Fort Lee couple Ruth and Peter Adler contacted the Port Authority after they noticed Wednesday that the famous flag was not suspended from the bridge. After an employee informed them that the overtime costs had dictated the decision to take it down early, they fired off letters to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who oversee the bistate agency, as well as U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, Democrats from New Jersey, and local news media.

When Ruth Adler learned Friday it would cost $10,000 to keep Old Glory flying, she was initially in disbelief.

"I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you," she said. But her position remained unchanged. "There are about 1,000 cars going over that bridge in an hour," she said. The agency could "pay for that immediately."

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), who noticed the flag was missing on July 4 while attending a party at the Adlers' apartment building, said she wanted a breakdown of the overtime costs.

"Ten-thousand dollars sounds outlandish to me," she said.

Latest videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME