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Proposed Rule

Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, New Orleans, LA

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.

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AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard proposes to change the regulation governing the operation of the SR 46 (St. Claude Avenue) bridge, mile 0.5 (Gulf Intracoastal Water Way (GIWW) mile 6.2 East of Harvey Lock), the SR 39 (Judge Seeber/Claiborne Avenue) bridge, mile 0.9 (GIWW mile 6.7 East of Harvey Lock), and the Florida Avenue bridge, mile 1.7 (GIWW mile 7.5 East of Harvey Lock), across the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana. New traffic studies indicate that rush hour vehicular traffic has increased congestion across all three bridges. This proposed regulation change would increase the time that the bridges would be open to vehicular traffic (closed to vessel traffic) by 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon and begin the afternoon closure one hour and 15 minutes earlier.

DATES:

Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before October 17, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

You may mail comments and related material to Commander (obc), Eighth Coast Guard District, 501 Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130-3396. The Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District, Bridge Administration Branch 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 Bridge Administration office between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Kay Wade, Bridge Administration Branch, 504-589-2965.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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 [CGD08-03-030], 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 proposed rule in view of them.

Public Meeting

We do not now plan to hold a public meeting. You may submit a request for a meeting by writing to Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District, Bridge Administration Branch 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 U.S. Coast Guard, at the request of a state representative and the owner of two of the three bridges crossing the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, proposes to change the times of the existing drawbridge operation regulation. Currently, all three bridges remain closed to navigation and open to vehicular traffic during the morning and afternoon commuter rush hours. The SR 46 (St. Claude Avenue) bascule span highway bridge at mile 0.5, the SR 39 (Judge Seeber/Claiborne Avenue) vertical lift span highway bridge at mile 0.9, and the Florida Avenue bascule span highway and railroad bridge at mile 1.7 are governed by 33 CFR 117.458, which states that the draw of these three bridges shall open on signal; except that, from 6:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, the draws need not open for the passage of vessels. The draws shall open at any time for a vessel in distress.

In an effort to reassess and accurately determine the needs of the commuters who cross these three bridges in the morning and afternoon en route to and from work in the Lower Ninth Ward area of New Orleans and in St. Bernard Parish, the Port of New Orleans hired Urban Systems to perform a new traffic study. The March 2003 traffic study revealed the average peak periods for vehicular traffic crossing the SR 46 (St. Claude Avenue) and the Florida Avenue bridges are from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. This marks a shift from the peak traffic times currently reflected in the regulation that was based on a traffic study completed in October 1999.

Traffic counts for the SR 39 (Judge Seeber/Claiborne Avenue) bridge were not conducted. However, the Claiborne Avenue bridge is located in close proximity to the other two bridges and is expected to exhibit similar traffic patterns. The Claiborne Avenue bridge provides a vertical clearance of 40 feet above Mean High Water in the closed to navigation position and is therefore expected to have less impact on vessel traffic than the other two bridges.

A review of the bridge tender logs revealed that adjusting the marine traffic closures to coordinate with vehicular rush hour traffic should not significantly impact the flow of marine traffic.

Allowing the bridges to remain closed to marine traffic during times that coincide with the heaviest vehicular traffic counts would help to relieve the morning and afternoon rush hour commuter traffic congestion across the bridges while having minimal impact on vessel traffic.

Discussion of Proposed Rule

The proposed rule change to 33 CFR 117.458 would allow the bridges across the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal in New Orleans, Louisiana, at mile 0.5, 0.9, and 1.7 to remain closed to navigation beginning at 6:30 a.m. instead of 6:45 a.m. and remain closed until 8:30 a.m. In the afternoon, the closure time would begin earlier at 3:30 p.m. and end at 5:45 p.m. instead of 6:45 p.m. These changes would more closely coincide with peak rush hour traffic.

Regulatory Evaluation

This proposed 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 Start Printed Page 49394potential 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 Homeland Security.

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

This proposed rule adds 15 minutes to the existing drawbridge operating regulation and shifts the afternoon closure time up by one hour and 15 minutes. A review of the bridge logs for these three bridges indicates that minimal requests to open the bridges during these periods have been made in the past, and there is no indication that there will be a future increase.

Small Entities

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered whether this proposed 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 rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This proposed rule would affect a limited number of small entities. These entities include the owners or operators of vessels needing to transit the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal between mile 0.5 and mile 1.7 from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. on weekdays.

If you think that your business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction qualifies as a small entity and that this 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 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this proposed 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 the Eighth Coast Guard District Bridge Administration Branch at the address above.

Collection of Information

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

Federalism

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 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 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 proposed rule would 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 proposed 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 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 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 proposed 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.

Environment

We have analyzed this rule under Commandant Instruction M16475.1D, which guides the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have concluded that there are no factors in this case that would limit the use of a categorical exclusion under section 2.B.2 of the Instruction. Therefore, this rule is categorically excluded, under figure 2-1, paragraph (32)(e), of the Instruction, from further environmental documentation. Paragraph (32)(e) excludes the promulgation of operating regulations or procedures for drawbridges from the environmental documentation requirements of NEPA. Since this rule will alter the normal operating conditions of the drawbridges, it falls within this exclusion. A final “Environmental Analysis Check List” and a final “Categorical Exclusion Determination” are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES.

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List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

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Regulations

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

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PART 117—DRAWBRIDGE OPERATION REGULATIONS

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

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Start Printed Page 49395 Authority: 33 U.S.C. 499; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1; 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. In § 117.458, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, New Orleans.

(a) The draws of the SR 46 (St. Claude Avenue) bridge, mile 0.5 (GIWW mile 6.2 East of Harvey Lock), the SR 39 (Judge Seeber/Claiborne Avenue) bridge, mile 0.9 (GIWW mile 6.7 East of Harvey Lock), and the Florida Avenue bridge, mile 1.7 (GIWW mile 7.5 East of Harvey Lock), shall open on signal; except that, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays, the draws need not open for the passage of vessels. The draws shall open at any time for a vessel in distress.

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Dated: August 6, 2003.

R.F. Duncan,

Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.

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[FR Doc. 03-21088 Filed 8-15-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-15-P