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Rule

Drawbridge Operation Regulations: Merrimack River, MA

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard is changing the drawbridge operation regulations for the Newburyport US1 Bridge, mile 3.4, across the Merrimack River between Newburyport and Salisbury, Massachusetts. The bridge owner asked the Coast Guard to change the regulations to allow the bridge to open only on the hour and half hour, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. This final rule is expected to help reduce vehicular traffic delays by scheduling bridge opening times while still meeting the reasonable needs of navigation.

DATES:

This rule is effective May 30, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as being available in the docket, are part of docket (CGD01-99-029) and are available for inspection or copying at the First Coast Guard District, Bridge Branch Office, 408 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. John W. McDonald, Project Officer, First Coast Guard District, (617) 223-8364.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulatory Information

On January 7, 2000, we published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Merrimack River, Massachusetts, in the Federal Register (65 FR 1077). We received one comment letter in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking. No public hearing was requested and none was held. Start Printed Page 24639

Background and Purpose

The Newburyport US1 Bridge, mile 3.4, across the Merrimack River has a vertical clearance of 35 feet at mean high water and 42 feet at mean low water in the closed position. The current regulations in 33 CFR 117.605(a) require the bridge to open on signal from May 1 through November 15, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. At all other times the draw must open on signal if at least a one-hour advance notice is given by calling the number posted at the bridge.

The bridge owner, the Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD), asked the Coast Guard to change the regulations to allow scheduled opening times to help alleviate vehicular traffic delays on Route 1 that occur from Memorial Day through Labor Day. During the summer months the bridge opens more frequently for vessel traffic. The traffic delays on Route 1 prompted the request to provide relief to help reduce the traffic delays during the summer months.

The Coast Guard, in response to the bridge owner's request for assistance, published a notice of temporary deviation from the operating regulations (64 FR 25438) on May 12, 1999. The purpose of the deviation was to test an alternate schedule for bridge openings for a period of 90 days from June 3, 1999, through August 31, 1999. The bridge operating schedule during the test period was:

Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the bridge opened once an hour, on the half hour.

Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the bridge opened once an hour, on the half hour. From 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., the bridge opened two times an hour, on the hour and half hour.

At all other times, the bridge opened on signal after a one-hour notice was given by calling the number posted at the bridge.

The Coast Guard evaluated the bridge opening log data for the past three years as well as the data collected during the 90 day test period in 1999. The data indicated that June, July and August are the months that have the greatest number of bridge openings with the greater percentage of the bridge openings occurring on the weekends.

Test Period 1999

MonthTotal openingsWeekend openingsPercent on weekends
June30720567
July32219360
August30513745

Monthly Total Bridge Openings

199719981999
April31734
May95155202
June288190307
July310387322
August334350305
September226294250
October197149169

The Coast Guard has determined that scheduled bridge openings on the hour and half hour from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., should help alleviate the traffic delays on Route 1 and still meet the reasonable needs of navigation.

The time period for scheduled bridge openings, Memorial Day through Labor Day, was selected because it is the time period when vehicular traffic on Route 1 is the heaviest and the frequency of bridge openings are the greatest.

Discussion of Comments and Changes

The Coast Guard received one comment letter in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking and no changes have been made to this final rule. The comment letter questioned if the half-hour time interval between bridge openings would be enough time for the vehicular traffic to return to normal flow. The Coast Guard evaluated the bridge opening duration times and the traffic recovery time after bridge openings during the 90-day test in the summer of 1999. The average bridge opening time during the 1999, test period was five minutes with an additional four minutes to restore normal traffic flow over the bridge. We believe, as a result of the data and observations made during the test period, that openings on request, on the hour and half-hour, should reduce vehicular traffic delays on Route 1 and still meet the reasonable needs of navigation.

Regulatory Evaluation

This rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of that Order. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under that Order. It is not “significant” under the regulatory policies and procedures of the Department of Transportation (DOT) (44 FR 11040; February 26, 1979). This conclusion is based on the fact that the bridge will still open on signal for marine traffic two times each hour, on the hour and half hour, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Small Entities

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612) we considered whether this rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. “Small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations less than 50,000.

The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This conclusion is based on the fact that the bridge opens only for large recreational sail boats and power boats. Most vessels can pass under the bridge without a bridge opening as a result of the high vertical clearance of 35 feet at mean high water and 42 feet at mean low water.

The owners of the larger vessels may be required, depending on the stage of the tide, to wait for bridge openings for up to 25 minutes in the event that they miss a scheduled bridge opening. The impacts are believed not to be significant because the bridge will still open on signal for marine traffic two times each hour, on the hour and half hour, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Collection of Information

This rule calls for no new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

Federalism

We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13132 and have determined that this rule does not have implications for federalism under that Order.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) governs the issuance of Federal regulations that require unfunded mandates. An unfunded mandate is a regulation that requires a State, local, or tribal government or the private sector to incur direct costs without the Federal Government's having first provided the funds to pay those unfunded mandate costs. This rule will not impose an unfunded mandate.

Taking of Private Property

This rule will not effect a taking of private property or otherwise have Start Printed Page 24640taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights.

Civil Justice Reform

This rule meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

Protection of Children

We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. This rule is not an economically significant rule and does not concern an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that may disproportionately affect children.

Environment

The Coast Guard considered the environmental impact of this rule and concluded that under figure 2-1, paragraph (32)(e) of Commandant Instruction M16475.1C, this rule is categorically excluded from further environmental documentation because promulgation of changes to drawbridge regulations have been found to not have a significant effect on the environment. A “Categorical Exclusion Determination” is available in the docket for inspection or copying where indicated under ADDRESSES.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

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Regulations

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For the reasons set out in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends

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PART 117—DRAWBRIDGE OPERATION REGULATIONS

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1. The authority citation for part 117 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 33 U.S.C. 499; 49 CFR 1.46; 33 CFR 1.05-1(g); section 117.255 also issued under the authority of Pub. L. 102-587, 106 Stat. 5039.

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2. Section 117.605(a) is revised to read as follows:

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Merrimack River

(a) The draw of the Newburyport US1 Bridge, mile 3.4, shall operate as follows:

(1) From May 1 through November 15, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the draw shall open on signal; except that, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the draw shall open on signal only on the hour and half hour.

(2) At all other times the draw shall open on signal after at least a one-hour advance notice is given by calling the number posted at the bridge.

* * * * *
Start Signature

Dated: April 13, 2000.

Robert F. Duncan,

Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Acting Commander, First Coast Guard District.

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[FR Doc. 00-10455 Filed 4-26-00; 8:45 am]

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