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Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Lake Washington Ship Canal, WA

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 amending the regulations governing the drawspan of the Montlake Bridge across the east end of the Lake Washington Ship Canal by lengthening the hours that the draw need not open for the passage of vessels during the part of the year when vessel traffic is low. The change will relieve vehicular congestion during the peak congested period for road traffic.


This rule is effective October 9, 2003.


Comments and related material received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as being available in the docket, are part of docket CGD13-02-012 and are available for inspection or copying at Commander (oan), Thirteenth Coast Guard District, 915 Second Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98174-1067 between 7:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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Austin Pratt, Chief, Bridge Section, Aids to Navigation and Waterways Management Branch, telephone (206) 220-7282.

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Regulatory History

On September 30, 2002, we published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Lake Washington Ship Canal, WA, in the Federal Register (67 FR 189). We received no letters commenting on the proposed rule. No public meeting was requested, and none was held.

Background and Purpose

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) requested this change in the drawbridge operations schedule to alleviate traffic congestion in the Montlake area by increasing the periods for part of the year in which the drawbridge need not open for the passage of vessels.

The draw of the Montlake Bridge, mile 5.2, Lake Washington Ship Canal at Seattle, Washington, opens on signal except that the draw need not open for the passage of vessels from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays, for any vessel of less than 1000 gross ton, unless the vessel has in tow a vessel of 1000 gross tons or over. The draw need only open on the hour and half-hour from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. the draw opens if one hour notice is provided. This notice requirement has been voluntarily suspended by WSDOT. The bridge is staffed by operators 24 hours a day. This change removes this nighttime notice provision.

The Montlake Bridge provides 48 feet of vertical clearance above the mean regulated lake level of Lake Washington for the central 100 feet of the bascule span. Navigation on the waterway includes tugs, gravel barges, construction barges, sailboats, motor yachts, kayaks, rowing shells, and government vessels.

The Lake Washington Ship Canal bisects Seattle from east to west and is currently crossed by two fixed highway bridges and four vehicular bascules, of which the Montlake is the easternmost. At the western extremity seaward of the Hiram Chittenden Locks at Ballard is a single-leaf railroad bascule.

The Montlake Bridge is critical to north-south road traffic in its area. The closest alternative crossing is about 0.8 mile to the west and cannot be reached easily without traveling other congested streets during peak traffic hours.

This change would alleviate vehicular congestion by lengthening the periods Start Printed Page 53051that the bridge would be allowed to remain closed to marine traffic from the beginning of September to the end of April each year. These months correspond approximately to the foul weather period in Seattle when congestion is heaviest and vessel traffic is lowest.

Discussion of Comments and Changes

No comments were received in response to the notice and no change is being made to the rule as proposed in this rulemaking.

Regulatory Evaluation

This 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 Homeland Security (DHS).

The impact of this rule is expected to improve traffic flow on Montlake Boulevard without impeding navigation.

This conclusion is based on the fact that the majority of vessels plying the canal will not be hindered by this change. Many of the commercial and recreational vessels can pass the span without an opening. Vessel traffic diminishes significantly during the months that are affected while the annual maximal use period remains unaffected.

Small Entities

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered whether this 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 rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. There are no known small entities affected by this rule.

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 could better evaluate its effects on them and participate in the rulemaking process. No assistance was requested.

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 would 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 expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

Taking of Private Property

This rule will not effect 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 economically significant and does not concern 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 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. There are no known effects of this rule that would warrant further analysis and documentation.

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List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

  • Bridges
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For the reasons set out in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends Part 117 of Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations, 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. 0170.1; 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. Section 117.1051(e)(2)(i) is revised and paragraph (e)(3) is removed to read as follows:

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Lake Washington Ship Canal.
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(e) * * *

(2) * * *

(i) The draw need not open from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 Start Printed Page 53052p.m. from April 30 to September 1 and from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. from September 1 to April 30.

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Dated: August 26, 2003.

Jeffrey M. Garrett,

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

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[FR Doc. 03-22794 Filed 9-8-03; 8:45 am]