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

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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

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Coast Guard, DOT.


Final rule.


The Coast Guard is changing 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 final rule will reduce the number of bridge openings for transit of pleasure craft during a four-year bridge repair project. This change will 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. The “Northeast River” is being changed to the “Northeast Cape Fear River”.


This rule is effective December 26, 2002.


Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as available in the docket, are part of docket CGD05-02-014 and are available for inspection or copying at Commander (Aowb), Fifth Coast Guard District, Federal Building, 4th Floor, 431 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, Virginia 23704-5004 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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Regulatory Information

On May 30, 2002, we published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Northeast Cape Fear River, Wilmington, North Carolina” in the Federal Register (67 FR 37746). We received one letter commenting on the proposed rule. No public hearing was requested, and none was held.

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 Start Printed Page 70553closed 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 transited the area and required bridge openings between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Motorists did not have an alternate route when traveling this stretch of highway unless they drove several traffic congested miles. Boaters did not have an alternate route to transit this waterway when the drawbridge was closed.

NCDOT requested permission to decrease the number of openings for pleasure craft to avoid excessive/hazardous traffic back-ups during repairs. NCDOT proposed an inter-modal compromise that will 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. The Coast Guard considered restricting all navigation but chose not to, due to the safety concerns of restricting commercial vessels with hazardous cargoes. The Coast Guard believes that closure during the proposed time periods will not overburden recreational marine traffic while allowing the continued use of two lanes for the two-way flow of vehicular traffic.

This final rule will revise 33 CFR 117.829, which regulates the scheduled openings of the Seaboard System Railroad Bridge across Northeast Cape Fear River at mile 27.0. The previous regulatory text contains no paragraph designation. The regulatory text describes the “Northeast River,” and this section is incorrectly titled the “Northeast River.” This final rule corrects the river name and includes the Isabel S. Holmes Bridge in the same section.

Discussion of Comments and Changes

The Coast Guard received one letter on the NPRM. This letter stated they had no objection to the proposed rule, therefore, no changes were made to the final rule.

Regulatory Evaluation

This final 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, l979).

We expect the economic impact of this final 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 these 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 final rule will 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 final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

This final rule will 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 each month). In addition, to avoid any potential restriction to navigation, maritime advisories will be widely available to users of the river.

Assistance for Small Entities

Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-121), we offered to assist small entities in understanding the rule so that they can better evaluate its effects on them and participate in the rulemaking. In our notice of proposed rule making we provided a point of contact to small entities, who could answer questions concerning proposed provisions or options for compliance.

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).


A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on State or local governments and could either preempt State law or impose a substantial direct cost of compliance on them. We have analyzed this 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 final rule will not result in such expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

Taking of Private Property

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

Civil Justice Reform

This final 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 final 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 create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that may disproportionately affect children. Start Printed Page 70554

Indian Tribal Governments

This final 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.

Energy Effects

We have analyzed this final 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 final 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 final 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
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For reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 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.

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2. Section 117.829 is revised to read as follows:

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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 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.

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Dated: November 12, 2002.

James D. Hull,

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

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[FR Doc. 02-29905 Filed 11-22-02; 8:45 am]