Drawbridge operations: Massachusetts,


[Federal Register: August 12, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 155)]

[Proposed Rules]

[Page 43126-43127]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Coast Guard

33 CFR Part 117


RIN 2115-AE47

Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Acushnet River, MA.

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DOT.

ACTION: Notice of withdrawal of proposed rule.

SUMMARY: The Coast Guard has withdrawn the notice of proposed rulemaking governing the New Bedford Fairhaven (Rt-6) Bridge, mile 0.0, over the Acushnet River between New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts. In light of comments received, the Coast Guard reconsidered the proposed changes to the operating regulations and determined that the changes were too restrictive for the waterway users. It is expected that this action will better meet the present needs of navigation.

DATES: The NPRM is withdrawn effective August 12, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Documents as indicated in this preamble are available for inspection or copying at 408 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA. between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is (617) 223-8364.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John W. McDonald, Project Officer, First Coast Guard District, (617) 223-8364.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Route 6 Bridge presently opens on the hour from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., a quarter past the hour from 11:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., and at all other times on call. The draw also opens at any time for vessels with a draft exceeding 15 feet and for vessels owned or operated by the U.S. Government, state or local authorities. Each opening of the draw should not exceed 15 minutes except for vessels with drafts exceeding 15 feet or in extraordinary circumstances.

On April 20, 1998, the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking entitled Drawbridge Operation Regulations: Acushnet River, Massachusetts, in the Federal Register 63 FR 19435. Interested persons were invited to comment on the notice of proposed rulemaking on or before June 19, 1998. The proposed changes to the operating rules published in the notice of proposed rulemaking would have required the bridge to open on signal on the hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., except that from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, the

[[Page 43127]]

bridge need not open, except for inbound commercial fishing vessels on the hour. The bridge would be required to open on signal at any time for vessels with a draft of 15 feet or greater.

The Coast Guard received twenty (23) comment letters in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking and a petition signed by 76 recreational boaters. All the comment letters and the petition opposed the proposed changes to the operating rules for the bridge. Comment letters were received from commercial operators, public officials, commercial facilities, recreational vessel owners, and marinas located upstream of the bridge. The petition was from recreational boaters located at several marinas upstream of the bridge. The comment letters and the petition objected to any limitation of the operating hours for both commercial and recreational vessels at any time. They indicated that the marine operators have enough restrictions with the existing hourly openings and further limitations on their ability to transit to their facilities would cause an undue economic hardship on their operations.

The marinas located upstream of the bridge indicated a potential loss of business could result since many of their customers likely would seek other locations rather than deal with the hourly openings and the proposed two additional closed periods Monday through Friday. The commercial operators indicated that any restrictions to commercial vessels would be totally unacceptable and would place a hardship on the main economic interests of the New Bedford area.

In light of the strong opposition to the notice of proposed rulemaking, the Coast Guard reconsidered changing the operating regulations for the bridge and determined that the proposed rule is too restrictive for the waterway users.

The Coast Guard no longer believes that this proposed rule achieves the requirement of balancing the navigational rights of waterway users and the needs of land based transportation.

The notice of proposed rulemaking is withdrawn and the docket is closed.

Dated: July 10, 1998. James D. Garrison, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Acting Commander, First Coast Guard District.

[FR Doc. 98-21596Filed8-11-98; 8:45 am]