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Proposed Rule

Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Elizabeth River, Eastern Branch, 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

AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard proposes to change the regulations that govern the operation of the Berkley Bridge across the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River, mile 0.4, in Norfolk, Virginia. The proposal would extend the morning and evening rush hour closure periods so that the morning rush hour period starts at 5 a.m. and ends at 9 a.m., and the evening rush hour starts at 3 p.m. and Start Printed Page 33406ends at 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The proposed change would relieve vehicular traffic congestion during the weekday rush hours while still providing for the reasonable needs of navigation.

DATES:

Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before July 25, 2005.

ADDRESSES:

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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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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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 CGD05-05-049, 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 a return receipt, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all submittals 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. But you may submit a request for a meeting by writing to Commander (obr), Fifth Coast Guard District 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

On behalf of the City of Norfolk, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) who owns and operates this lift-type bridge, requested a change to the existing regulations for the Berkley Bridge. The current regulation allows the Berkley Bridge, at mile 0.4 in Norfolk, to remain closed one hour prior to the published start of a scheduled marine event regulated under §100.501, and remain closed until one hour following the completion of the event unless the Patrol Commander designated under §100.501 allows the bridge to open for commercial vessel traffic. In addition, the bridge shall open on signal any time except from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, and shall open at any time for vessels with a draft of 22 feet or more, provided that at least 12 hours advance notice has been given to the Berkley Bridge Traffic Control Room and shall open on signal at any time for a vessel in distress.

The purpose of this proposal is to help alleviate the current highway traffic congestion which has increased. The Berkley Bridge is a principle arterial route that serves as the major evacuation highway in the event of emergencies. Weekday vehicular traffic counts submitted by VDOT revealed that in 2002 and 2003, the Berkley Bridge has experienced a six percent (or 78,898 car) increase in traffic flow during the morning and evening rush hours.

Also, on September 18, 2003, the Hampton Roads area experienced severe damage as a result of Hurricane Isabel. Due to a heavy storm surge along the entire coastal area, the Portsmouth Midtown Tunnel was flooded. While the tunnel was undergoing an evaluation and repairs, a significant amount of vehicular traffic that used the tunnel on a daily basis was shifted onto the Berkley Bridge. In its attempt to manage this increase in road traffic and associated safety concerns, VDOT requested an immediate expansion of the current authorized rush hour closure periods of the Berkley Bridge. The Coast Guard responded by issuing a temporary final rule, until the repairs were completed that extended the morning and evening closure periods and suspended the provision allowing openings for deep-draft commercial vessels. The temporary final rulemaking implemented for the Berkley Bridge to stay open a little longer in the morning and evening was successful in easing the commute for thousands of motorists.

As a result of the temporary adjustments to the morning and evening rush hour closure periods caused by Hurricane Isabel, the current proposal was offered to help alleviate the growing vehicular traffic congestion and to increase public safety, while still balancing the needs of marine and vehicular traffic.

Discussion of Proposed Rule

The Coast Guard proposes to amend the regulations governing the Berkley Bridge, mile 0.4, at Norfolk, VA, at 33 CFR 117.1007, by revising paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) thereby, expanding the time periods in which the drawbridge may remain closed to vessels to be 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The proposal would change the telephone number to the Berkley Bridge Traffic Control Room from “(804) 494-2424” to “(757) 494-2490”. The telephone number change would accurately reflect the new telephone number to this Bridge.

Also, the surplus language currently stated in 33 CFR 117.1007(c)(4) would be removed to be consistent with the general operating regulations at 33 CFR 117.31. The provision delineated at 33 CFR 117.31(b)(2) already requires that the draw shall open as soon as possible for vessels in distress and is no longer required to be published in each specific bridge regulation. Text modifications would be consistent with the proposed changes to be made in these paragraphs, as appropriate.

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 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 proposed 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 proposed 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 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 Start Printed Page 33407owned 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 not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because the rule only adds minimal restrictions to the movement of navigation, and mariners who plan their transits in accordance with the scheduled bridge openings can minimize delay.

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 (Public Law 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 Waverly W. Gregory, Jr., Bridge Administrator, Fifth Coast Guard District, (757) 398-6222. The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

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

Environment

We have analyzed this proposed 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 proposed 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

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Regulations

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR part 117.1007 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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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

2. Remove paragraphs §117.1007(c)(3) and (c)(4) and revise paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) to read as follows:

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Elizabeth River-Eastern Branch.
* * * * *

(c) * * *

(1) Shall open on signal at any time, except from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

(2) From 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, shall open at any time for commercial vessels with a draft of 22 feet or more, provided that at least 12 hours advance notice has been given to the Berkley Bridge Traffic Control room at (757) 494-2490.

Start Signature

Dated: May 31, 2005.

Sally Brice-O'Hara,

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

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[FR Doc. 05-11397 Filed 6-7-05; 8:45 am]

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