Skip to Content


Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Elizabeth River-Eastern Branch, Norfolk, VA

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.

Start Preamble


Coast Guard, DHS.


Final rule.


The Coast Guard is changing the regulations that govern the operation of the Norfolk Southern (NS) Railroad Bridge (NS #V2.8) across the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River, at mile 2.7, in Norfolk, VA. The final rule allows the NS #V2.8 bridge to be operated from a remote location, and to remain open for vessel traffic and to close only for train crossings and periodic maintenance. This rule will make the operation of the bridge more efficient, because currently the bridge only opens on signal, or on signal after notice.


This rule is effective May 31, 2005.


Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as being available in the docket, are part of docket CGD05-04-209 and are available for inspection or copying at Commander (obr), Fifth Coast Guard District, Federal Building, 1st Floor, 431 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704-5004 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Fifth Coast Guard District maintains the public docket for this rulemaking.

Start Further Info


Anton Allen, Bridge Management Specialist, Fifth Coast Guard District, at (757) 398-6227.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information


Regulatory History

On December 2, 2004, we published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Elizabeth River—Eastern Branch, Norfolk, VA” in the Federal Register (69 FR 70091). We received one comment on the proposed rule. No public meeting was requested, and none was held.

Background and Purpose

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC), who owns and operates this swing-type bridge at mile 2.7 across the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River, in Norfolk, VA, requested a change to the current operating procedures set out in 33 CFR Part 117.1007(a), which requires the draw to open on signal, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and open on signal with at least two hours notice, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Under this rule, the NS Railroad Bridge (NS #V2.8) will remain open to vessel traffic, closing only for train crossings and periodic maintenance. This rule allows the NS Railroad Bridge (NS #V2.8) to be operated from a remote location at the NS Railroad Bridge (NS #5), at mile 1.1, over the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River.

NSC has installed closed circuit cameras in the area of the bridge and directly beneath the bridge, mounted on the center pier fender systems on both sides. Infrared sensors have also been installed to cover the swing radius of the bridge. This equipment enhances the controller's ability to monitor vessel traffic from the remote location. The controller will also monitor marine channel 13.

This change is being made to make the operation of the NS Railroad Bridge (NS #V2.8) more efficient. It will save operational costs by eliminating the continuous presence of bridge tenders, and is expected to decrease maintenance costs. In addition, the draw will be left in the open position and will only close for train crossings or periodic maintenance, and therefore will provide for greater flow of vessel traffic than the current regulation.

Discussion of Comments and Changes

The Coast Guard received one comment on the NPRM from NSC. NSC requested slight revisions to the language to be used in this rule. The Coast Guard has incorporated the following changes to this rule: In paragraph (a)(3), replaced “less than 3/4 of a mile” with “inhibited.” A specific visibility distance was deemed impractical. Added the words “Attention, Attention” to the announcement in paragraph (a)(5). In paragraph (a)(6), removed the word “automatically.” The operation of this bridge is not intended to be automatic. Also in paragraph (a)(6), added the following statement: “Vessels shall stay clear of both channels as to not interfere with the infrared detectors, until green lights are displayed on the swing span.”

The Coast Guard considers these changes necessary for safe navigation and the final rule was changed to reflect these proposals.

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. Although the NS Railroad Bridge (NS #V2.8) will be untended and operated from a remote location, mariners can continue their transits because the bridge will remain open to mariners, only to be closed for train crossings or periodic maintenance.

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 Start Printed Page 22254small 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 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 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 does 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, 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 because it has been determined that the promulgation of operating regulations for drawbridges are categorically excluded.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

  • Bridges
End List of Subjects


Start Amendment Part

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

End Amendment Part Start Part


End Part Start Amendment Part

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

End Amendment Part Start Authority

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.

End Authority Start Amendment Part

2. In § 117.1007 revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
Elizabeth River-Eastern Branch.

(a) The draw of the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge (NS #V2.8), mile 2.7 at Norfolk, shall operate as follows:

(1) The draw shall remain in the open position for navigation. The draw shall only be closed for train crossings or periodic maintenance authorized in accordance with subpart A of this part.

(2) The bridge shall be operated by the controller at the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge (NS #5), mile 1.1, over the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, VA. The controller shall monitor vessel traffic with closed circuit cameras and infrared sensors covering the swing radius. Operational information will be provided 24 hours a day on marine channel 13 and via telephone (757) 446-5320.

(3) The bridge shall not be operated from the remote location in the following events: Failure or obstruction of the infrared sensors, closed-circuit cameras or marine-radio communications, or anytime controller's visibility is inhibited. In these situations, a bridge tender with Norfolk Southern must be called to operate the bridge on-site. Start Printed Page 22255

(4) Before the bridge closes for any reason, the remote operator will monitor waterway traffic in the area. The bridge shall only be closed if the off-site remote operator's visual inspection shows that the channel is clear and there are no vessels transiting in the area. While the bridge is moving, the operator shall maintain constant surveillance of the navigation channel.

(5) Before closing the draw, the channel traffic lights will change from flashing green to flashing red, the horn will sound five short blasts, and an audio voice warning stating, “Attention, Attention. Norfolk Southern's Railroad Bridge over the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River at milepost 2.7 will be closing to river traffic.” Five short blasts of the horn will continue until the bridge is seated and locked down to vessels, the channel traffic lights will continue to flash red.

(6) When the rail traffic has cleared, the horn will sound one prolonged blast followed by one short blast to indicate that the draw is opening to vessel traffic. During the opening swing movement, the channel traffic lights will flash red until the bridge returns to the fully open position. In the full open position to vessels, the bridge channel lights will flash green followed by an announcement stating, “Security, security, security. Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge at mile 2.7 is open for river traffic.” Vessels shall stay clear of both channels as to not interfere with infrared detectors, until green lights are displayed on the swing span.

* * * * *
Start Signature

Dated: April 18, 2005.

Ben A. Thomason III,

Captain, United States Coast Guard, Acting Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 05-8569 Filed 4-28-05; 8:45 am]