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Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Nanticoke River, Seaford, DE

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Coast Guard, DHS.


Final rule.


The Coast Guard is changing the regulations that govern the operation of the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge across the Nanticoke River, mile 39.4, in Seaford, Delaware. The final rule will increase bridge openings by extending the daytime hours of operation and reducing the required signal time for opening the draw. The change will reduce delays for navigation by allowing more draw openings.


This rule is effective May 8, 2003.


Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as available in the docket, are part of docket CGD05-02-020 and are available for inspection or copying at Commander (oan), 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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Terrance Knowles, Environmental Protection Specialist, Fifth Coast Guard District, at (757) 398-6587.

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Regulatory Information

On August 6, 2002, a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Nanticoke River, Seaford, Delaware” was published in the Federal Register (67 FR 50844). No comments on the proposed rule were received. No public hearing was requested, nor held.

Background and Purpose

The Nanticoke River Bridge is owned and operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad. The regulation in 33 CFR 117.243 requires the railroad bridge over the Nanticoke River, mile 39.4, in Seaford, Delaware to open on signal from May 1 through September 30 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and need not be opened from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. At all times from October 1 through April 30, the draw shall open on signal if at least four hours notice is given.

The bridge connects The Town of Blades and Seaford. This bridge is one of two railways supplying the southern Delmarva Peninsula. Mariners do not have an alternate route. The Town of Blades requested permission to increase the number of hours the bridge will be open to marine traffic due to the increased navigation on the waterway. The Town of Blades asserted that the present regulation for this bridge is too restrictive for the increased number of mariners. Blades Economic Development Commission (BEDCO) has built an 87-slip marina in the Town of Blades, upstream from the bridge. The marina is now open, and the drawbridge needs to be opened more frequently to accommodate the increased flow of maritime traffic in this area. As the flow of vessel traffic increases, the current operating schedule of the bridge may cause vessel back-ups and potential hazardous impacts on navigation. The Town of Blades also asserts that this economic development project will draw more than the 87 mariners already projected for the marina.

The Town of Blades requested permission to increase the number of hours the bridge will be open to water Start Printed Page 16954craft to avoid excessive/hazardous vessel back-ups at the bridge. Norfolk Southern Railway and local mariners developed an inter-modal compromise. The plan allows for an extended amount of time that the draw will be open, while not excessively limiting the rail traffic. This compromise will help to decrease the back-up of mariners at the bridge and thus avoid potentially hazardous/dangerous situations. The aforementioned indicates that it would be advantageous to change the drawbridge operating regulations. The Coast Guard believes that this rule change is needed and will expedite and not overburden marine traffic.

Due to the fact that the final rule will increase time/openings, all of which the bridge owner has agreed to, we anticipate only positive impacts on the boating community.

This final rule will revise 33 CFR 117.243, which regulates the scheduled openings of the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge across the Nanticoke River at mile 39.4.

Discussion of Comments and Changes

The Coast Guard did not receive any comments on the NPRM. 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 but enhance maritime traffic transiting the bridge, 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 removes current restrictions on navigation by allowing for an increased number of draw openings. In addition, maritime advisories will be widely available to users of the river about all proposed regulations and any potential impacts to navigation.

Assistance for Small Entities

Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 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 rulemaking 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 rule will not result in such an expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

Taking of Private Property

This 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 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 create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that may disproportionately affect children.

Indian Tribal Governments

This 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 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 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; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170; 33 CFR 1.05-1(g); § 117.255 also issued under authority of Pub. L. 102-587, 106 Stat. 5039.

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2. § 117.243 is revised to read as follows:

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Nanticoke River.

The draw of the Norfolk Southern Railway Bridge across the Nanticoke River, at mile 39.4, at Seaford, Delaware will operate as follows:

(a) From March 15 through November 15 the draw will open on signal for all vessels except that, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. at least 21/2 hours notice will be required.

(b) At all times from November 16 through March 14 the draw will open on signal if at least 21/2 hours notice is given.

(c) When notice is required, the owner operator of the vessel must provide the bridge tender with an estimated time of passage by calling 717-541-2151/2140.

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Dated: March 31, 2003.

James D. Hull,

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

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[FR Doc. 03-8525 Filed 4-7-03; 8:45 am]