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Proposed Rule

Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Niantic River, Niantic, CT

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Start Preamble


Coast Guard, DHS.


Notice of proposed rulemaking.


The Coast Guard is proposing to modify the operating schedule that governs the S156 Bridge across the Niantic River, mile 0.1 at Niantic, CT. The bridge owner, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, submitted a request to allow six hours' notice for night time transits during the months of November and April due to infrequent bridge openings. This proposed rule would align the regulations for the S156 Bridge with other Connecticut Department of Transportation bridges.


Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before October 21, 2019.


You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2019-0545 using the 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 proposed rule, call or email Mr. Jeffrey Stieb, First Coast Guard District Bridge Management Specialist; telephone 617-223-8364, email

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I. Table of Abbreviations

CFR Code of Federal Regulations

CT DOT Connecticut Department of Transportation

DHS Department of Homeland Security

FR Federal Register

OMB Office of Management and Budget

NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Advance, Supplemental)

§ Section

U.S.C. United States Code

II. Background, Purpose and Legal Basis

The S156 Bridge at mile 0.1 over the Niantic River at Niantic, Connecticut, has a vertical clearance of 9 feet at mean high water and 12 feet at mean low water. Vertical clearance is unlimited when the draw is open. Horizontal clearance is approximately 65 feet. Waterway users include recreational and small commercial vessels.

The existing regulation, 33 CFR 117.215(b), requires that from December 1 through March 31, from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. the draw shall open on signal if at least six hours' notice is given. CT DOT has requested that the start of the winter schedule begin one month sooner and end one month later than presently allowed by the regulation. This rule change will align the winter operation and staffing of the three CT DOT drawbridges located in the same operational area by extending the range of months during which six hours' notice is required to include November and April. This rule change will allow for more efficient and economic operation of the bridge while meeting the reasonable needs of navigation.

III. Discussion of Proposed Rule

The bridge logs show that during the last three years only three requests to open occurred between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. in November and no request to open were received between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. in April. None of the requests were from commercial vessels. CT DOT and the Coast Guard have conducted outreach to stakeholders with no objections received. The Coast Guard proposes to permanently modify the operating regulation.

The proposed rule would provide that, from November 1 through April 30, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m., the draw shall open on signal if at least six hours' notice is given. It is our opinion that the proposed rule meets reasonable needs of marine traffic.

IV. Regulatory Analyses

We developed this proposed rule after considering numerous statutes and Executive Orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses Start Printed Page 43094based 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 only three vessel transits would have been affected over the past three years. We believe that this proposed change to the drawbridge operation regulation at 33 CFR 117.215(b) will meet the reasonable needs of navigation.

B. Impact on Small Entities

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 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 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.

The bridge will continue to open on signal with six hours' notice between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. during the months of November and April. Based on the last three years of records, an average of one vessel annually will be affected by the proposed change.

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.

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 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, above. 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 an 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 Environmental Planning COMDTINST 5090.1 (series), which guide 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 paragraph L49 of Chapter 3, Table 3-1 of U.S. Coast Guard Environmental Planning Implementing Procedures 5090.1A 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. Start Printed Page 43095

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.

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List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

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

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2. Revise § 117.215(b) to read as follows:

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Niantic River.
* * * * *

(b) The draw of the S156 Bridge, mile 0.1, at Niantic, shall open on signal; except that, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays, the draw shall open only for the passage of commercial vessels. From November 1 through April 30, from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., the draw shall open on signal if at least six hours' notice is given by calling the number posted at the bridge.

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Dated: July 26, 2019.

A.J. Tiongson,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2019-17937 Filed 8-19-19; 8:45 am]