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Proposed Rule

Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Northeast Cape Fear River, Wilmington, NC

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Start Preamble


Coast Guard, DOT.


Notice of proposed rulemaking.


The Coast Guard is proposing to change the regulations that govern the operation of the Isabel S. Holmes Bridge across the Northeast Cape Fear River, mile 1.0, in Wilmington, North Carolina. The proposed rule will reduce the number of bridge openings for transit of pleasure craft during a four-year bridge repair project. This change would reduce traffic delays while still providing for the reasonable needs of navigation.

In addition, an administrative correction is being made to the name of the waterway in 33 CFR Part 117.829. The “Northeast River” will be changed to the “Northeast Cape Fear River”.


Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before July 29, 2002.


You may mail comments and related material to Commander (Aowb), Fifth Coast Guard District, Federal Building, 4th Floor, 431 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, Virginia 23704-5004. The Commander (Aowb), Fifth Coast Guard District maintains the public docket for this rulemaking. Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as being available in the docket, will become part of this docket and will be available for inspection or copying at the above address between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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Ann B. Deaton, Bridge Administrator, Fifth Coast Guard District, at (757) 398-6222.

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Request for Comments

We encourage you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and related material. If you do so, please include your name and address, identify the docket number for this rulemaking (CGD05-02-014), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and give the reason for each comment. Please submit all comments and related material in an unbound format, no larger than 81/2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying. If you would like to know they reached us, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. We may change this rule in view of them.

Public Meeting

We do not now plan to hold a public meeting. But you may submit a request for a meeting by writing to the Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District at the address under ADDRESSES explaining why one would be beneficial. If we determine that one would aid this rulemaking, we will hold one at a time and place announced by a later notice in the Federal Register.

Background and Purpose

The Isabel S. Holmes Drawbridge is owned and operated by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The regulation in 33 CFR 117.5 requires the bridge to open promptly and fully once a request to open is received. When the bridge is closed there is 40 feet of vertical clearance.

The Isabel S. Holmes Bridge crosses the Northeast Cape Fear River. It makes connections with Route 133 and the US-17 corridor, which supports the general north/south flow of traffic through the region. The bridge is one of two river crossings under high vehicular use in the region. According to figures from 1999, approximately 19,000 vehicles pass over the bridge every day. Between 1999 and the present, an average of 12 pleasure craft per month Start Printed Page 37747transited the area and required bridge openings between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Motorists do not have an alternate route when traveling this stretch of highway unless they drive several traffic congested miles. Boaters do not have an alternate route to transit this waterway when the drawbridge is closed.

NCDOT requested permission to decrease the number of openings for pleasure craft to avoid excessive/hazardous traffic back-ups during repairs. NCDOT proposes an inter-modal compromise that would limit the times of draw openings during hours of bridge repair. NCDOT asserts that by closing the bridge to pleasure craft during daytime hours, except for two scheduled openings per day for waiting vessels, vehicular traffic congestion will be reduced and highway safety will be enhanced. NCDOT provided statistical data, which supports the traffic counts for a two-way four-lane bridge being changed to a two-way two-lane bridge. The data also revealed that the draw was opened an average of 12 times/month for pleasure craft, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Overall, the Coast Guard believes that closure during the proposed time periods would not overburden recreational marine traffic while allowing the continued use of two lanes for the two-way flow of vehicular traffic.

33 CFR 117.829 currently regulates the scheduled opening of the Seaboard System Railroad Bridge across Northeast Cape Fear River at mile 27.0. The existing regulatory text contains no paragraph number. The regulatory text describes the “Northeast River.” This regulation is incorrectly titled the “Northeast River.” The proposed rule for the Isabel S. Holmes Bridge will be included in the same section.

Discussion of Proposed Rule

This proposed rule will be in place for four years while bridge repairs are conducted. The bridge must remain usable during repairs to avoid traffic hazards, increased traffic from the Smith Creek Parkway and any other potential local economic impacts. It must also remain operational to accommodate the needs of navigation.

The draw currently opens on signal. The proposed rule will allow the draw to remain closed to pleasure craft from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., except at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the draw will be opened. The draw will open on signal 24 hours/day to Government and commercial vessels. The draw will open on signal for all waiting vessels between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The new schedule will be effective seven days per week.

The proposed rule changes the name of the waterway from the “Northeast River” to the “Northeast Cape Fear River.” The name change will accurately reflect the name of this waterway.

The proposed regulation will designate the current regulatory text at 33 CFR 117.829 as paragraph (b). The current regulatory text will be revised to refer to the “Northeast Cape Fear River” rather than the “Northeast River.”

Regulatory Evaluation

This proposed temporary rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, 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).

We expect the economic impact of this proposed temporary rule to be so minimal that a full Regulatory Evaluation under paragraph 10e of the regulatory policies and procedures of DOT is unnecessary.

We reached this conclusion based on the fact that the proposed changes will not impede maritime traffic transiting the bridge, but merely require mariners to plan their transits in accordance with the scheduled bridge openings, while still providing for the needs of the bridge owner.

Small Entities

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered whether this proposed temporary rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term “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 of less than 50,000.

The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this proposed temporary rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

This proposed temporary rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because the regulation does not restrict the movement of commercial navigation, but only restricts the movement of pleasure craft (approx. 12 openings/month). In addition, to avoid any potential restriction to navigation, maritime advisories will be widely available to users of the river.

If you think that your business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction qualifies as a small entity and that this proposed temporary rule would have a significant economic impact on it, please submit a comment (see ADDRESSES) explaining why you think it qualifies and how and to what degree this rule would economically affect it.

Assistance for Small Entities

Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this proposed temporary rule so that they can better evaluate its effects on them and participate in the rulemaking. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact Ann B. Deaton, Bridge Administrator, Fifth Coast Guard District, (757) 398-6222.

Collection of Information

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


A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on State or local governments and would either preempt State law or impose a substantial direct cost of compliance on them. We have analyzed this proposed temporary rule under that Order and have determined that it does not have implications for federalism.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 or more in any one year. Though this proposed temporary rule would not result in such an expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

Taking of Private Property

This proposed temporary rule would not affect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference Start Printed Page 37748with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights.

Civil Justice Reform

This proposed temporary 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 proposed temporary rule under Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. This rule is not an economically significant rule and would not create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that might disproportionately affect children.

Indian Tribal Governments

This proposed temporary rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it would not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes.

To help the Coast Guard establish regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian and Alaskan Native tribes, we published a notice in the Federal Register (66 FR 36361, July 11, 2001) requesting comments on how to best carry out the Order. We invite your comments on how this proposed temporary rule might impact tribal governments, even if that impact may not constitute a “tribal implication” under the Order.

Energy Effects

We have analyzed this proposed temporary rule under Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use. We have determined that it is not a “significant energy action” under that order because it is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866 and is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. It has not been designated by the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs as a significant energy action. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive Order 13211.


We have considered the environmental impact of this proposed temporary rule and concluded that, under figure 2-1, paragraph (32)(e), of Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, this rule is categorically excluded from further environmental documentation. The proposed temporary rule only involves the operation of an existing drawbridge and will not have any impact on the environment. A “Categorical Exclusion Determination” is available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES.

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List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

  • Bridges
End List of Subjects

For reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR Part 117 as follows:

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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 authority of Pub.L.102-587, 106 Stat. 5039.

End Authority

2. Section 117.829 is revised to read as follows:

Northeast Cape Fear River.

(a) The draw of the Isabel S. Holmes Bridge, at mile 1.0, at Wilmington, North Carolina will operate as follows:

(1) The draw will be closed to pleasure craft from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the draw will open for all waiting vessels.

(2) The draw will open on signal for Government and commercial vessels at all times.

(3) The draw will open for all vessels on request signal from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

(b) The draw of the Seaboard System Railroad Bridge across the Northeast Cape Fear River, mile 27.0, at Castle Hayne, North Carolina shall open on signal if at least 4 hours notice is given.

Start Signature

Dated: May 16, 2002.

James D. Hull,

Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District.

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[FR Doc. 02-13510 Filed 5-29-02; 8:45 am]