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Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Chambers Creek, Steilacoom, WA

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Coast Guard, DHS.


Notice of temporary deviation from regulations; request for comments.


The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Chambers Creek Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad vertical lift railroad bridge across Chambers Creek, mile 0.01, near Steilacoom in Pierce County, WA. This deviation will test a change to the drawbridge operation schedule, for the second time within the past year, to determine whether a permanent change to the schedule is appropriate.


This deviation is effective from 6 a.m. on July 22, 2017 to 6 a.m. on January 16, 2018.

Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before January 16, 2018.


You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2017-0695 using Federal eRulemaking Portal at

See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on submitting comments.

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If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Mr. Danny McReynolds, Bridge Management Specialist, Thirteenth Coast Guard District; telephone 206-220-7234, email

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I. Background, Purpose and Legal Basis

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, the bridge owner, is requesting to test a deviation to the schedule of the Chambers Creek BNSF railroad vertical lift railroad bridge across Chambers Creek, mile 0.01, near Steilacoom in Pierce County, WA. Due to minimal usage of the drawbridge between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the bridge owner has requested to test this schedule to see if it better balances the needs of marine and rail traffic. The bridge has a vertical clearance of 10ft in the closed-to-navigation position and 50ft of vertical clearance in the open-to-navigation position (reference plane is MHW elevation of 12.2 feet). The bridge currently operates under 33 CFR 117.5; which requires the bridge to open anytime when a request or signal to open is given.

The following facts support BNSF's proposal: (1) The previous test deviation from December 12, 2016 to Jun 23, 2017 had only one lift opening request (2) over the last 6 years only 2% of the subject bridge lifts have occurred between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., which equates to approximately 5 openings a year, (3) from February 2009 to June 2015 there were 1932 total openings of which only 40 occurred between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and (4) the navigation traffic consists primarily of the tenants of Chambers Bay marina (recreational users) that are members of the Chambers Bay Boating Association.

The Coast Guard is publishing this temporary deviation, for a second time within a year, to test the proposed schedule change to determine whether a permanent change to the schedule is appropriate to better balance the needs of marine and rail traffic.

Under this temporary deviation, in effect from 6 a.m. on July 22, 2017 to 6 a.m. on January 15, 2017, the subject bridge shall open on signal, except from Start Printed Page 3344910 p.m. to 6 a.m. the draw shall open on signal if at least 4 hours notice is given. The bridge will be required to open as soon a possible, no later than 1 hour after notification, for vessels engaged in emergency response.

The Coast Guard will inform the users of the waterways of this temporary deviation through our Local and Broadcast Notices to Mariners and through direct outreach with the Chambers Creek Boating Association so that vessel operators can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation. Vessels able to pass underneath the bridge in the closed-to-navigation position may do so at anytime.

In accordance with 33 CFR 117.35(e), the drawbridge must return to its regular operating schedule immediately at the end of the effective period of this temporary deviation. This deviation from the operating regulations is authorized under 33 CFR 117.35.

II. Public Participation and Request for Comments

We view public participation as essential to effective rulemaking, and will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. Your comment can help shape the outcome of this rulemaking. If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this rulemaking, indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation.

We encourage you to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at If your material cannot be submitted using, contact the person in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate instructions.

We accept anonymous comments. All comments received will be posted without change to and will include any personal information you have provided. For more about privacy and the docket, you may review a Privacy Act notice regarding the Federal Docket Management System in the March 24, 2005, issue of the Federal Register (70 FR 15086).

Documents mentioned in this notice, and all public comments, are in our online docket at and can be viewed by following that Web site's instructions. Additionally, if you go to the online docket and sign up for email alerts, you will be notified when comments are posted or a final rule is published.

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Dated: July 13, 2017.

Steven M. Fischer,

Bridge Administrator, Thirteenth Coast Guard District.

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[FR Doc. 2017-15230 Filed 7-19-17; 8:45 am]