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Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Potomac River, Between Maryland and Virginia

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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AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Notice of temporary deviation from regulations.

SUMMARY:

The Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District, has approved a temporary deviation from the regulations governing the operation of the new Woodrow Wilson Memorial (I-95) Bridge, mile 103.8, across Potomac River between Alexandria, Virginia and Oxon Hill, Maryland. This deviation allows the new drawbridge to remain closed-to-navigation each day from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. beginning on August 26, 2006 until and including October 24, 2006, to facilitate completion of the Outer Loop portion for the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge construction project.

DATES:

This deviation is effective from 10 a.m. on August 26, 2006, until 2 p.m. on October 24, 2006.

ADDRESSES:

Materials referred to in this document are available for inspection or copying at Commander (dpb), 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 telephone number is (757) 398-6222. Commander (dqb), Fifth Coast Guard District maintains the public docket for this temporary deviation.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Waverly W. Gregory, Jr., Bridge Administrator, Fifth Coast Guard District, at (757) 398-6222.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In June 2006, the southernmost portion of the bascule spans for the new Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, at mile 103.8, across Potomac River between Alexandria, Virginia and Oxon Hill, Maryland was publicly placed into service, switching I-95 Northbound traffic onto the new Outer Loop portion of the bridge. The newly-constructed portion of bridge will be required to open for vessels in accordance with the current drawbridge operating regulations set out in 33 CFR 117.255(c).

While the drawbridge is operational, coordinators for the construction of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project indicated that the bascule span s not yet fully commissioned and the work continues through the rigorous testing phase. Opening the new bascule span for a vessel at this time would take approximately 45 minutes in a best case scenario. This has the potential to have a significant impact upon I-95 traffic, especially during the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, bridge-opening time frame currently available for commercial vessels, in accordance with 33 CFR 117.255(c).Start Printed Page 50350

Coordinators requested a temporary deviation from the current operating regulation for the new Woodrow Wilson Memorial (I-95) Bridge set out in 33 CFR 117.255(c).

Though good progress has been made regarding commissioning of the north and south drawbridges (both now carrying I-95 vehicle traffic), the coordinators are requesting an additional two months of 10 a.m.-to-2 p,.m. restriction of bridge operation to proceed with commissioning activities through October 26, 2006. From a river-user standpoint, the coordinators have received no requests from boaters or mariners to open during the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. time frame since the restriction was issued in late June 2006. In fact, no requests have been received for an opening of the new bridge at all since July 3, 2006. Finally, the coordinators have received no complaints on the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. restriction.

The coordinators requested that the new Outer Loop portion of the new drawbridge not be available for openings for vessels each day between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Monday, August 26 through October 24, 2006 or until the bridge is properly commissioned, whichever comes first. The temporary deviation will only affect vessels with mast heights of 75 feet or greater as the existing drawbridge is able to open in accordance with the current operating regulations set out in 33 CFR 117.255(a). Management of the Federal and auxiliary channels will continue to be closely coordinated between the coordinators for the construction of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, the Coast Guard and vessels requesting transit through the construction zone. Further more, all affected vessels with mast heights greater than 75 feet will be able to receiver an opening of the new drawbridge in the “off-peak” vehicle traffic hours (evening and overnight) in accordance with 33 CFR 117.255(c). Maintaining the new drawbridge in the closed-to-navigation position each day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on August 26, 2006 through October 24, 2006 will help reduce the impact to vehicular traffic during this phase of new bridge construction.

The Coast Guard has informed the known users of the waterway of the closure period for the bridge so that these vessels can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation.

In accordance with 33 CFR 117.35(c), this work will be performed with all due speed in order to return the bridge to normal operation as soon as possible. This deviation from the operating regulations is authorized under 33 CFR 117.35.

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Dated: August 17, 2006

Waverly W. Gregory, Jr.,

Chief, Bridge Administration Branch, Fifth Coast Guard District.

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[FR Doc. 06-7132 Filed 8-24-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-15-M