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Proposed Rule

Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Tensaw River, Hurricane, AL

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Start Preamble


Coast Guard, DHS.


Notice of proposed rulemaking.


The Coast Guard proposes to change the operating schedule that governs the CSX Railroad swing bridge across the Tensaw River mile 15.0, Hurricane, Baldwin County, AL. The bridge owner, CSX Transportation, submitted a request to allow the bridge to require a ten-hours-notice for bridge openings because there are infrequent bridge openings. This proposal would remove the drawbridge tender during daylight hours.


Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard on or before July 17, 2019.


You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2018-0956 using Federal eRulemaking Portal at See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for further instructions on submitting comments.

Start Further Info


If you have questions about this proposed rulemaking, call or email Mr. Doug Blakemore, Eighth Coast Guard District Bridge Administrator; telephone (504) 671-2128, email

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information


I. Table of Abbreviations

CFR Code of Federal Regulations

CSX CSX Railroad

DHS Department of Homeland Security

E.O. Executive Order

FR Federal Register

OMB Office of Management and Budget

Pub. L. Public Law

NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking

§ Section

U.S.C. United States Code

II. Background, Purpose and Legal Basis

CSX has requested to change the operating requirements for the CSX railroad bridge across the Tensaw River mile 15.0, Hurricane, Baldwing County, Alabama. This bridge currently opens according to 33 CFR part 117.113 and opens on signal; except that, from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. the draw shall open on signal if at least eight-hours-notice is given. CSX has requested that the bridge open on signal if at least ten-hours-notice is given at all times.

This bridge spans the Tensaw River that is currently used by small recreational boats, house boats, and a tour boat. The bridge has a vertical clearance of 11 feet above mean high water in the closed to vessel position and unlimited vertical clearance in the open to vessel traffic position. There are few vessel movements through this bridge. From July 2017 through February 2018 the bridge opened 52 times for vessel passage. This equates to less than 7 times each month. Of these openings 38 were made for recreational vessels, 16 were made for a tour boat, 6 were made for house boats, and 2 were made for local law enforcement vessels.

This change would allow CSX to align bridge tender operations with daylight and night time hours and provide for the reasonable needs of navigation.

The Coast Guard is issuing this NPRM under authority 33 U.S.C. 499.

III. Discussion of Comments and Change

The Coast Guard's decision to promulgate a drawbridge regulation depends primarily upon the effect of the proposed rule on navigation to assure that the rule provides for the reasonable needs of navigation after consideration of the rule on the impact to the public. The Coast Guard must ensure that bridges across navigable waters do not unreasonably obstruct waterway traffic and at the same time provide for the reasonable needs of land traffic. Drawbridge operations must balance the needs of vessel, vehicle, rail, pedestrian and recreational traffic in the overall public interest.

Based on the infrequent times that this bridge has opened for vessel traffic over eight months this proposed rule reasonably accommodates waterway users while reducing CSX's burden in operating the bridges. We have not identified any impacts on marine navigation with this proposed rule.

IV. Regulatory Analyses

We developed this proposed rule after considering numerous statutes and Executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on these statutes and Executive orders and we discuss First Amendment rights of protestors.

A. Regulatory Planning and Review

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13771 directs agencies to control regulatory costs through a budgeting process. This NPRM has not been designated a “significant regulatory action,” under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the NPRM has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and pursuant to OMB guidance it is exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 13771.

This regulatory action determination is based on the fact that vessels can still open the draw and transit if advance notice is provided. Those vessels with a vertical clearance requirement of less than 11 feet above mean high water may transit the bridge at any time, and the bridge will open in case of emergency at any time. We believe this proposed change to the drawbridge operation regulations at 33 CFR 117.113 will meet the reasonable needs of navigation.

B. Impact on Small Entities

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires Federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their Start Printed Page 27995fields, 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.

The bridge provides an 11 foot vertical clearance at mean high water that should accommodate most present vessel traffic and the bridge will continue to open on signal for any vessel provided at least 10 hours advance notice is given. While some owners or operators of vessels intending to transit the bridge may be small entities, for the reasons stated in section IV.A above, this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on any vessel owner or operator.

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. If the proposed rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this proposed rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

C. 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.).

D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Government

A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. We have analyzed this proposed rule under that Order and have determined that it is consistent with the fundamental federalism principles and preemption requirements described in Executive Order 13132.

Also, 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. If you believe this proposed rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

E. 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 (adjusted for inflation) or more in any one year. Though this proposed rule will not result in such expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this proposed rule elsewhere in this preamble.

F. Environment

We have analyzed this proposed rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and 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 made a preliminary determination that this action is one of a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This proposed rule simply promulgates the operating regulations or procedures for drawbridges. Normally such actions are categorically excluded from further review, under figure 2-1, paragraph (32)(e), of the Instruction.

A preliminary Record of Environmental Consideration and a Memorandum for the Record are not required for this proposed rule. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this proposed rule.

G. Protest Activities

The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment rights of protesters. Protesters are asked to contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to coordinate protest activities so that your message can be received without jeopardizing the safety or security of people, places or vessels.

V. 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, visit​privacynotice.

Documents mentioned in this NPRM as being available in this docket and all public comments, will be in our online docket at and can be viewed by following that website'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.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

  • Bridges
End List of Subjects

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; 33 CFR 1.05-1; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

End Authority Start Amendment Part

2. Revise § 117.113 to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
Tensaw River

The draw of the CSX Transportation Railroad bridge, mile 15.0 at Hurricane, shall open on signal if at least ten-hours-notice is given. During periods of severe storms or hurricanes, from the time the National Weather Service sounds an “alert” for the area until the “all clear” is sounded, the draw shall open on signal.

Start Signature

Dated: April 16, 2019.

Paul F. Thomas,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2019-12720 Filed 6-14-19; 8:45 am]