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Proposed Rule

Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW), Sunset Beach, NC

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Coast Guard, DHS.


Notice of proposed rulemaking.


The Coast Guard is proposing to change the drawbridge operating regulations that govern the S.R. 1172 Bridge, at Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway mile 337.9, Sunset Beach, NC. This proposal would allow the bridge to open on the hour on signal for pleasure vessels from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. year round. The reason for this change would be to improve the schedule for both roadway and waterway users.


Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before June 22, 2007.


You may mail comments and related material to Commander (dpb), 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 (dpb), 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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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 CGD05-07-026, 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 (dpb), 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

The S.R. 1172 Bridge at Sunset Beach has zero vertical clearance to vessels when in the closed position at mean high water.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) owns and operates this single-lane, floating steel-barge, swing-span referred to as a pontoon drawbridge. Current regulations set out at 33 CFR 117.821 (a)(5) require the bridge to open on signal for commercial vessels at all times; and on the hour on signal for pleasure vessels between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., April 1 to November 30, except that on Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays, from June 1 through September 30, the bridge shall open on signal on the hour between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

NCDOT and the residents of the Town of Sunset Beach requested a change to the operating regulations for the S.R. 1172 Bridge in an effort to improve the schedule for both roadway and waterway users. The S.R. 1172 Bridge provides the only route on and off Sunset Beach Island. This proposal would not change the requirement for the bridge to open on signal at any time for commercial vessels.

The Coast Guard reviewed the bridge logs for 2005 and 2006 provided by NCDOT which illustrate a small decrease in the numbers of vessels passing through the bridge during the spring, summer, and fall over the past year. Most vessels transiting the area in the spring and fall are operated by owners commonly referred to as “snowbirds”. Owners of these transitory recreational vessels are either traveling north to south towards a warmer climate in the fall or south to north towards a cooler climate in the spring which can result in frequent bridge openings due to increased vessel numbers. During the spring and fall months, the flow of recreational vessels is constant.

There were approximately 10,461 and 11,429 vessel passages occurring in 2006 and 2005, respectively, over an eight-month period (during the peak boating season from April to November) according to records furnished by the NCDOT. (See Table A)

Table A

Bridge Openings for 2006
Boat Passages for 2006
Bridge Openings for 2005
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Boat Passages for 2005

Based on the above information, we have proposed to change the regulations that govern the S.R. 1172 Bridge in regards to pleasure vessels to open on the hour on signal between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., year-round. At all other times, the draw shall open on demand. The proposal will facilitate pleasure vessels in navigating the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, while also helping to ease vehicular traffic congestion. The bridge will continue to open on signal at any time for commercial vessels.

Discussion of Proposed Rule

The Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR 117.821, by revising paragraph (a)(5) for pleasure vessels to read “shall open on the hour on signal from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.”

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 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 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 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 (Pub. L. 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).


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 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. Start Printed Page 26040

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.


We have analyzed this proposed rule under Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, and Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 5100.1, which guides the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have made a preliminary determination 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, we believe that this rule should be categorically excluded, under figure 2-1, paragraph (32)(e), of the Instruction, from further environmental documentation. Under figure 2-1, paragraph (32)(e), of the Instruction, an “Environmental Analysis Check List” and a “Categorical Exclusion Determination” are not required for this rule. However, comments on this section will be considered before the final rule.

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List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

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For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes to amend 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. In § 117.821, paragraph (a)(5) is revised to read as follows:

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Albermarle Sound to Sunset Beach.
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(a) * * *

(5) S.R. 1172 Bridge, mile 337.9, at Sunset Beach, NC, shall open on the hour on signal between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Dated: April 9, 2007.

L.L. Hereth,

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

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[FR Doc. E7-8723 Filed 5-7-07; 8:45 am]