Despite their good intentions, the iron workers who hung a U.S. flag above the Interstate 74 bridge last week were ordered Thursday to take it down.

Veterans Day or no Veterans Day, the flag was regarded by state transportation officials as a dangerous distraction. Immediately upon learning Thursday of the flag's presence between the two bridge towers, Mark Brandl of the Iowa Department of Transportation said it had to come down.

"We appreciate the patriotic effort," Brandl said. "At the same time, there's a level of authorization to go through. They can find a place in their own office to hang it."

The flag was positioned on a thin cable, strung between the two towers on the north end of the Bettendorf-Moline span, said Art Snyder of Civil Constructors, the contractor on the project.

"Iron workers did it," he said. "It's their tradition. They've been working inside and outside those towers. One went up one set of cables and another went up the other side."

They used a rope to get the flag-mounting cable from one tower to the other, he said.

The flag was flown in accordance with the proper etiquette.

About 30 minutes before Brandl ordered Old Glory removed from its elevated perch, Snyder said the bridge workers intended to take it down after the holiday weekend.

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But Brandl said safety could not wait.

"It was not authorized, and we do not need the distraction," he said, adding, "I can't imagine who it would offend, but I do not want controversy."

Workers from Civil Constructors removed the flag by 3 p.m. Thursday - within an hour of IDOT learning of its presence.