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Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Chincoteague Channel, Chincoteague, VA

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, DHS.


Final rule.


The Coast Guard is changing the operating regulations that govern the operation of the SR 175 Bridge, at mile 3.5, at Chincoteague, Virginia. The final rule will require the draw to open on demand from midnight to 6 a.m., and on the hour from 6 a.m. to midnight, except from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July of every year, the draw need not be opened. This change will reduce vehicular traffic congestion, increasing public safety and will extend the structural and operational integrity of the movable span, while still balancing the needs of marine and vehicular traffic.


This rule is effective May 18, 2005.


You may mail comments and related material to Commander (obr), Fifth Coast Guard District, Federal Building, 1st Floor, 431 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704-5004. The 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 Commander (obr), Fifth Coast Guard District between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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Gary Heyer, Bridge Management Specialist, Fifth Coast Guard District, at (757) 398-6629.

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Regulatory History

On December 30, 2004 we published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Chincoteague Channel, Chincoteague, VA” in the Federal Register (69 FR 78373). We received six letters commenting on the proposed rule. No public hearing was requested.

Background and Purpose

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) owns and operates this swing-type bridge. The current regulation allows the SR 175 Bridge, mile 3.5, at Chincoteague to open on signal except the draw shall remain in the closed position to vessels from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July of every year.

On behalf of the Chincoteague Town Council residents, and business owners in the area, VDOT has requested a change to the existing regulations for the SR 175 Bridge. This final rule is an effort to schedule the number of drawbridge openings thereby reducing traffic congestion for public safety. By scheduling the number of openings this change will also extend the structural and operational integrity of the movable Start Printed Page 20052span, while balancing the needs of mariners and vehicular traffic transiting in and around this seaside resort area. SR 175 highway is also the principle arterial route that serves as the major evacuation highway in the event of emergencies or tidal flooding.

The final rule will provide for a safer and more efficient operation of the SR 175 Bridge.

Discussion of Comments and Changes

The Coast Guard received six comments on the NPRM. Five comments were from Chincoteague Island residents and the other comment was from Coast Guard (CG) Group Eastern Shore; all comments favored an hourly opening schedule year round. CG Group Eastern Shore expressed additional concerns for safe vessel passage after midnight. From midnight to 6 a.m., the NPRM proposed that the draw of the bridge need not be opened. CG Group Eastern Shore suggested the bridge open on demand from midnight to 6 a.m., except from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July, the draw need not be opened.

The Coast Guard considered these changes necessary for safe navigation and the final rule was changed to reflect this suggestion.

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).

We expect the economic impact of this rule to be so minimal that a full Regulatory Evaluation under the regulatory policies and procedures of DHS is unnecessary. We reached this conclusion based on the fact that the changes have only a minimal impact on maritime traffic transiting the bridge. Mariners can plan their trips in accordance with the scheduled bridge openings, to minimize delays.

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.

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 rule so that they can better evaluate its effects on them and participate in the rulemaking process. No assistance was requested from any small entity.

Collection of Information

This 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 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 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 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 would not create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that might 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. The Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not designated it as a significant energy action. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive Order 13211.

Technical Standards

The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in their regulatory activities unless the agency provides Congress, through the Office of Management and Budget, with an explanation of why using these standards would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., specifications of materials, performance, design, or operation; test methods; sampling procedures; and related management systems practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies.

This rule does not use technical standards. Therefore, we did not consider the use of voluntary consensus standards.


We have analyzed this rule under Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, Start Printed Page 20053which 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 because it has been determined that the promulgation of operating regulations for drawbridges are categorically excluded.

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List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

  • Bridges
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For the 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. 0170.1; 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. § 117.1005 is revised to read as follows:

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Chincoteague Channel.

The draw of the SR 175 Bridge, mile 3.5, at Chincoteague shall open on demand from midnight to 6 a.m., and on the hour from 6 a.m. to midnight, except that from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July of every year, the draw need not be opened.

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Dated: April 7, 2005.

Sally Brice-O'Hara,

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

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[FR Doc. 05-7618 Filed 4-15-05; 8:45 am]