Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Tchefuncta River, Madisonville, LA, 53810-53813 [2018-23367]

Download as PDF 53810 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 207 / Thursday, October 25, 2018 / Rules and Regulations Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g); 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959–1963 Comp., p. 389. § 71.1 [Amended] 2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.11C, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 13, 2018, and effective September 15, 2018, is amended as follows: ■ Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. * * * * * AAL AK E5 Gustavus, AK [Amended] Gustavus Airport, AK (Lat. 58°25′31″ N, long. 135°42′27″ W) That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within the area bounded by a line beginning at lat. 58°32′19″ N, long. 135°44′54″ W, to lat. 58°11′58″ N, long. 135°02′11″ W, to lat. 58°10′08″ N, long. 135°05′18″ W, to lat. 58°03′38″ N, long. 134°57′10″ W, to lat. 57°59′34″ N, long. 135°10′49″ W, to lat. 57°59′40″ N, long. 135°25′05″ W, to lat. 58°08′36″ N, long. 135°26′55″ W, to lat. 58°25′37″ N, long. 136°00′20″ W, thence to the point of beginning. Issued in Seattle, Washington, on October 12, 2018. Shawn M. Kozica, Group Manager, Operations Support Group, Western Service Center. [FR Doc. 2018–23144 Filed 10–24–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG–2016–0963] RIN 1625–AA09 Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Tchefuncta River, Madisonville, LA Coast Guard, DHS. Final rule. AGENCY: ACTION: The Coast Guard is changing the operating schedule that governs the State Route 22 Bridge (Madisonville (SR 22) swing span bridge) across the Tchefuncta River, mile 2.5, at Madisonville, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. This action is necessary to relieve vehicular traffic congestion along SR 22 near Madisonville, LA during peak, afternoon traffic periods on weekdays. DATES: This rule is effective November 26, 2018. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:53 Oct 24, 2018 Jkt 247001 To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http:// www.regulations.gov. Type USCG– 2016–0963 in the ‘‘SEARCH’’ box and click ‘‘SEARCH.’’ Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions about this rule, call or email Mr. Doug Blakemore, Eighth Coast Guard District Bridge Administrator; telephone (504) 671– 2128, email Douglas.A.Blakemore@ uscg.mil. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ADDRESSES: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register LA–DOTD Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking § Section SNPRM Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking II. Background Information and Regulatory History This final rule changes the operating schedule that governs the State Route 22 Bridge (Madisonville (SR 22) swing span bridge) across the Tchefuncta River, mile 2.5, at Madisonville. The Madisonville (SR 22) swing span bridge has a vertical clearance of 6.2 feet above Mean High Water in the closedto-navigation position and unlimited clearance in the open-to-navigation position. The bridge cycle time for an opening is approximately six minutes. Because the largest commercial facility upstream of the bridge is no longer in service, navigation on the Tchefuncta River consists primarily of recreational traffic. The drawbridge is regulated under 33 CFR 117.500. Currently, on both weekdays and weekends during daytime hours from 6 a.m. through 7 p.m., the draw opens on signal every half hour, and during nighttime hours from 7 p.m. through 6 a.m., it opens on signal. However, the current regulation provides that on weekdays Monday through Friday except federal holidays, the draw only opens once an hour during peak vehicular traffic periods in the morning and afternoon, between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. In 2016, the bridge owner, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LA–DOTD), requested a change to the bridge’s operating schedule to relieve vehicular traffic congestion along SR 22 near Madisonville, LA. LA–DOTD’s regulation change request had three PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 components. First, it requested that the Coast Guard extend the daytime openings from half-hour intervals to hourly intervals on both weekdays and on weekends. Second, it requested that the bridge stay closed at 8 a.m. on weekdays. Third, it requested that the bridge stay closed at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. In other words, generally speaking, LA–DOTD requested that during daytime hours on both weekdays and weekends, the bridge would open hourly, except that during weekday morning and afternoon vehicular commuting times, the bridge would be closed for a two-hour period in the morning and three-hour period in the afternoon. In November of 2016, the Coast Guard issued a 180-day test deviation allowing the LA–DOTD to adopt the proposed schedule for the purpose of facilitating a study of vehicular traffic flow over the bridge as it related to a four way stop sign and traffic light at the intersection of SR 22 and SR 21 and its proposed schedule.1 At the same time, the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) requesting public comments on adopting the proposed change.2 We did not receive any comments on the temporary deviation or the NPRM. In 2017, LA–DOTD conducted a traffic study and replaced the four-way stop sign at the intersection of SR 22 and SR 21/SR 1077 with a traffic light. The test deviation expired on May 18, 2017. On June 14, 2018, the Coast Guard published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) titled Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Tchefuncta River, Madisonville, LA (83 FR 27732). The SNPRM contained a detailed regulatory history of this rule and explained our review of LA– DOTD’s request in light of the study. The Coast Guard determined that the study did not support all of LA–DOTD’s requested changes, but that there was a potential correlation between traffic congestion and bridge openings on weekday afternoons and that a regulation change may alleviate vehicular traffic while also providing for the reasonable needs of navigation. The SNPRM proposed to change the bridge operating schedule and allow the bridge to remain closed to marine traffic at the scheduled weekday openings at 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except federal holidays. The proposed change would allow vehicles to travel along SR 22 1 Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Tchefuncta River, Madisonville, LA (81 FR 76866). 2 Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Tchefuncta River, Madisonville, LA (81 FR 76889). E:\FR\FM\25OCR1.SGM 25OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 207 / Thursday, October 25, 2018 / Rules and Regulations unimpeded by bridge openings for a two and a half-hour period during the weekday afternoon commute. During the comment period that ended on July 16, 2018, we received 300 comments. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority 33 U.S.C. 499. The Eighth Coast Guard District Commander has determined that this change to the operating schedule of the Madisonville (SR 22) swing span bridge that allows it to remain closed to marine traffic for a two and a half hour-period, after the 3:30 p.m. opening until the 6 p.m. opening on weekday afternoon commutes, is necessary and reasonable. The purpose of this rule is to alleviate vehicle congestion on SR 22 during peak afternoon traffic hours and meet the reasonable needs of recreational vessels to use the Tchefuncta River. IV. Discussion of Comments, Changes, and the Rule As noted above, we received 300 comments on our SNPRM published on June 14, 2018. Of the comments we received, 287 were in favor of the proposed rule, 8 were not in favor of the proposed rule, and 5 comments were unclear as to whether or not they were in favor of the proposed rule. Nearly all the commenters expressed general dissatisfaction with the regular movement of vehicular traffic over the Madisonville (SR 22) swing span bridge. Of the 287 comments in favor of the two and one-half afternoon closure period during weekday afternoon commutes, 120 commenters requested that the Coast Guard also consider a morning weekday closure; another 42 of the 287 commenters requested that the Coast Guard extend the period between all openings from a half hour to an hour; and another 30 requested that the Coast Guard extend the two and one-half hour afternoon closure to accommodate either earlier school traffic patterns or a longer rush hour period into the evening. Although the Coast Guard understands the commenters’ wellstated concerns for requiring additional closures and fewer openings, the Coast Guard is in need of data upon which to propose such changes. At this time, the Coast Guard believes that there is insufficient objective evidence that making the schedule more restrictive to vessels would result in a corresponding alleviation in the traffic congestion. In particular, some commenters in support of the change claimed that recreational vessel use of the Tchefunta River, rather than commercial use, is insufficient use of the waterway to warrant a disproportionate VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:53 Oct 24, 2018 Jkt 247001 inconvenience to motorists travelling on SR 22. However, a greater number of commenters also acknowledged that the opening of the drawbridge may not be the only factor causing the vehicular congestion, and that even closing the drawbridge entirely may not permanently solve the motorists’ delay. The commenters pointed to the recent population increase in the area, the fact that SR 22 is one of only two routes over the Tchefunta River in the area, and the location of a traffic light less than 500 feet from the drawbridge as factors indicating that a land-based traffic management solution may be necessary. Some commenters recommended widening SR 22, replacing the swingspan bridge with a fixed bridge, adjusting the schedule of the nearby traffic light, or creating a circle pattern at the SR 22 and SR 21/SR 1077 intersection. We have forwarded those comments to LA–DOTD. Of the 8 comments not in favor of the rule, most stated that the current schedule was acceptable and opposed any further restriction on bridge openings for vessels. In particular, some of the 8 commenters stated that waterways should take priority over roadways and echoed the abovementioned statements that vessel traffic is not the cause of the motorists’ delay, citing the increase in vehicular traffic and expressing an unwillingness to accommodate the local population increase. None of the commenters against the proposed afternoon closure presented an alternate closure period or presented any facts or data indicating that the recreational vessels could not adjust their transits according to the new schedule. In particular, one commenter expressed concern that the schedule would unnecessarily restrict tax-paying vessel owners from taking evening sunset cruises from November to February. While the Coast Guard understands that this schedule change will impact evening vessel transits, the impact will only be during weeknights, when vehicular traffic is heaviest, and the weekend schedule will provide flexibility for vessels requiring evening openings. In addition, some commenters in favor of the rule expressed a misunderstanding as to the way the Coast Guard regulates drawbridges and their operation generally. As a preliminary matter, all drawbridges open ‘‘on signal,’’ which means that drawbridges must open promptly and fully for the passage of vessels when a request or signal to open is given in accordance with 33 CFR 117.15. In other words, even at the scheduled times in the regulation, the drawbridge does not PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 53811 open unless a vessel actually signals for an opening. Moreover, vessels may not signal for a drawbridge opening if the vertical clearance is sufficient to allow a vessel, after all lowerable nonstructural vessel appurtenances that are not essential to navigation have been lowered, to safely pass under the drawbridge in the closed position. Accordingly, the Coast Guard may assess penalties for the unnecessary opening of the draw. Finally, at least 6 commenters expressed concern overs delays of emergency medical vehicles. The Coast Guard regulations in 33 CFR 117.31 already address this issue, requiring that the drawtender make all reasonable efforts to close the draw when the emergency vehicle arrives. Nor did the Coast Guard receive comments from any police, fire, or emergency medical service providers that indicated concern with this regulation specific to their needs. In sum, the regulatory framework already provides: (1) That drawbridges do not open unless signaled by a vessel; (2) that vessels may be penalized for requesting unnecessary openings; and (3) that the drawbridge should close for emergency vehicles. The Coast Guard thanks all commenters for their participation in this rulemaking. After considering all of the 300 comments we received, the Coast Guard believes that the SNPRM’s proposed schedule adopting a two and half-hour closure period for weeknight afternoon commutes will meet the reasonable needs of vessel traffic on the Tchefuncta River. Accordingly, there are no changes in the regulatory text of this rule from the proposed rule in the SNPRM. V. Discussion of Final Rule This final rule changes the Madisonville (SR 22) swing span bridge operating schedule and allows the bridge to remain closed to marine traffic at the scheduled openings at 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except Federal holidays. Vessels may request an opening at 3:30 p.m., and again at 6 p.m. This allows vehicles to travel along SR 22 near Madisonville, LA unimpeded by bridge openings for a two and a half hour period during the afternoon commute. There are no other proposed changes to the operating schedule. The regulatory text appears at the end of this document. VI. Regulatory Analyses We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and Executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses E:\FR\FM\25OCR1.SGM 25OCR1 53812 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 207 / Thursday, October 25, 2018 / Rules and Regulations based on these statutes and Executive orders and we discuss First Amendment rights of protestors. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 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 rule has not been designated a ‘‘significant regulatory action,’’ under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the rule 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 a reduction of commercial vessel traffic on this waterway, and the recreational powerboats and sailboats that routinely transit the bridge under the schedule. Those vessels with a vertical clearance requirement of less than 6.2 feet above mean high water may transit the bridge at any time, and the bridge will open in case of emergency at any time. This regulatory action takes into account the reasonable needs of vessel and vehicular traffic. 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 fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard received no comments from the Small Business Administration on the November 4, 2016 NPRM. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. While some owners or operators of vessels intending to transit the bridge may be small entities, for the reasons stated in section V.A above, this 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 rule. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:53 Oct 24, 2018 Jkt 247001 concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with, Federal regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and rates each agency’s responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1– 888–REG–FAIR (1–888–734–3247). 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. C. Collection of Information This rule does not call for a new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501–3520). D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments 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 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 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 rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 $100,000,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more in any one year. Though this rule would not result in such an expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble. F. Environment We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023–01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321–4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves a change to the operating schedule of a drawbridge. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph L49 of Appendix A, Table 1 of DHS Instruction Manual 023–01–001–01, Rev. 01. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this 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. List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117 Bridges. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 33 CFR part 117 as follows: PART 117—DRAWBRIDGE OPERATION REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 117 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 33 U.S.C. 499; 33 CFR 1.05–1; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1. ■ 2. Revise § 117.500 to read as follows: § 117.500 Tchefuncta River. The draw of the S22 Bridge, mile 2.5, at Madisonville, LA shall open on signal from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. the draw need only open on the hour and half hour, except that: (a) From 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday except federal holidays the draw need only open on the hour; and E:\FR\FM\25OCR1.SGM 25OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 207 / Thursday, October 25, 2018 / Rules and Regulations (b) From 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except federal holidays the draw need not open. Dated: October 22, 2018. Paul F. Thomas, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District. [FR Doc. 2018–23367 Filed 10–24–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110–04–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG–2018–0974] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Middle River, Between Bacon Island and Lower Jones Tract, CA Coast Guard, DHS. Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation. AGENCY: ACTION: The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the San Joaquin County (Bacon Island Road) highway bridge across Middle River, mile 8.6, between Bacon Island and Lower Jones Tract, CA. The deviation is necessary due to a scheduled public utility power outage, resulting in no power to the bridge. This deviation allows the bridge to remain in the closed-to-navigation position. DATES: This deviation is effective from 8 a.m. through 6 p.m. on November 3, 2018. ADDRESSES: The docket for this deviation, USCG–2018–0974, is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the ‘‘SEARCH’’ box and click ‘‘SEARCH.’’ Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Carl T. Hausner, Chief, Bridge Section, Eleventh Coast Guard District; telephone 510–437– 3516, email Carl.T.Hausner@uscg.mil. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The San Joaquin County Department of Public Works has requested a temporary change to the operation of the San Joaquin County (Bacon Island Road) highway bridge, across Middle River, mile 8.6, between Bacon Island and Lower Jones Tract, CA. The drawbridge navigation span provides a vertical clearance of 8 feet above Mean High Water in the closed-to-navigation position. The draw operates as required by 33 CFR 117.171(a). Navigation on the daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:53 Oct 24, 2018 Jkt 247001 waterway is commercial and recreational. The drawspan will be secured in the closed-to-navigation position from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on November 3, 2018, to allow Pacific Gas & Electric secure power to the bridge to perform necessary work on a transformer. This temporary deviation has been coordinated with the waterway users. No objections to the proposed temporary deviation were raised. Vessels able to pass through the bridge in the closed position may do so at anytime. The bridge will not be able to open for emergencies. Old River can be used as an alternate route for vessels unable to pass through the bridge in the closed position. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterway through our Local and Broadcast Notices to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessel operators can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation. 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. Dated: October 22, 2018. Carl T. Hausner District Bridge Chief, Eleventh Coast Guard District. [FR Doc. 2018–23368 Filed 10–24–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110–04–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG–2018–0972] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Elizabeth River—Eastern Branch, Norfolk, VA Coast Guard, DHS. Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation. AGENCY: ACTION: The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Berkley (U.S. 460/S.R. 337) Bridge across the Elizabeth River—Eastern Branch, mile 0.4, at Norfolk, VA. The deviation is necessary to allow the bridge to remain in the closed-to-navigation position to facilitate testing of the emergency drive motors. DATES: This deviation is effective from 2:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. on October 28, 2018. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 53813 The docket for this deviation, [USCG–2018–0972], is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the ‘‘SEARCH’’ box and click ‘‘SEARCH’’. Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation. ADDRESSES: If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Mr. Mickey Sanders, Bridge Administration Branch Fifth District, Coast Guard; telephone (757) 398–6587, email Mickey.D.Sanders2@uscg.mil. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Virginia Department of Transportation, who owns and operates the Berkley (U.S. 460/S.R. 337) Bridge across the Elizabeth River—Eastern Branch, mile 0.4, at Norfolk, VA, has requested a temporary deviation from the current operating regulation set out in 33 CFR 117.1007(b), to facilitate testing of the emergency drive motor on both spans of the bridge. Under this temporary deviation, the bridge will remain in the closed-tonavigation position from 2:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. on October 28, 2018. The drawbridge has two spans, each with double-leaf bascule draws, and both spans have a vertical clearance in the closed-to-navigation position of 48 feet above mean high water. The Elizabeth River—Eastern Branch is transited by recreational vessels, tug and barge traffic, fishing vessels, and small commercial vessels. The Coast Guard has carefully considered the nature and volume of vessel traffic on the waterway in publishing this temporary deviation. Vessels able to pass through the bridges in the closed position may do so at any time. The bridge spans will not be able to open in case of an emergency and there is no immediate alternate route for vessels to pass. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterway through our Local Notice and Broadcast Notices to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessel operators can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation. 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. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\25OCR1.SGM 25OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 207 (Thursday, October 25, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 53810-53813]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-23367]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Coast Guard

33 CFR Part 117

[Docket No. USCG-2016-0963]
RIN 1625-AA09


Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Tchefuncta River, Madisonville, 
LA

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Coast Guard is changing the operating schedule that 
governs the State Route 22 Bridge (Madisonville (SR 22) swing span 
bridge) across the Tchefuncta River, mile 2.5, at Madisonville, St. 
Tammany Parish, Louisiana. This action is necessary to relieve 
vehicular traffic congestion along SR 22 near Madisonville, LA during 
peak, afternoon traffic periods on weekdays.

DATES: This rule is effective November 26, 2018.

ADDRESSES: To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being 
available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov. Type USCG-
2016-0963 in the ``SEARCH'' box and click ``SEARCH.'' Click on Open 
Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions about this rule, 
call or email Mr. Doug Blakemore, Eighth Coast Guard District Bridge 
Administrator; telephone (504) 671-2128, email 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Table of Abbreviations

CFR Code of Federal Regulations
DHS Department of Homeland Security
FR Federal Register
LA-DOTD Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking
Sec.  Section
SNPRM Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking

II. Background Information and Regulatory History

    This final rule changes the operating schedule that governs the 
State Route 22 Bridge (Madisonville (SR 22) swing span bridge) across 
the Tchefuncta River, mile 2.5, at Madisonville.
    The Madisonville (SR 22) swing span bridge has a vertical clearance 
of 6.2 feet above Mean High Water in the closed-to-navigation position 
and unlimited clearance in the open-to-navigation position. The bridge 
cycle time for an opening is approximately six minutes. Because the 
largest commercial facility upstream of the bridge is no longer in 
service, navigation on the Tchefuncta River consists primarily of 
recreational traffic. The drawbridge is regulated under 33 CFR 117.500. 
Currently, on both weekdays and weekends during daytime hours from 6 
a.m. through 7 p.m., the draw opens on signal every half hour, and 
during nighttime hours from 7 p.m. through 6 a.m., it opens on signal. 
However, the current regulation provides that on weekdays Monday 
through Friday except federal holidays, the draw only opens once an 
hour during peak vehicular traffic periods in the morning and 
afternoon, between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
    In 2016, the bridge owner, Louisiana Department of Transportation 
and Development (LA-DOTD), requested a change to the bridge's operating 
schedule to relieve vehicular traffic congestion along SR 22 near 
Madisonville, LA. LA-DOTD's regulation change request had three 
components. First, it requested that the Coast Guard extend the daytime 
openings from half-hour intervals to hourly intervals on both weekdays 
and on weekends. Second, it requested that the bridge stay closed at 8 
a.m. on weekdays. Third, it requested that the bridge stay closed at 5 
p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. In other words, generally speaking, LA-
DOTD requested that during daytime hours on both weekdays and weekends, 
the bridge would open hourly, except that during weekday morning and 
afternoon vehicular commuting times, the bridge would be closed for a 
two-hour period in the morning and three-hour period in the afternoon.
    In November of 2016, the Coast Guard issued a 180-day test 
deviation allowing the LA-DOTD to adopt the proposed schedule for the 
purpose of facilitating a study of vehicular traffic flow over the 
bridge as it related to a four way stop sign and traffic light at the 
intersection of SR 22 and SR 21 and its proposed schedule.\1\ At the 
same time, the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking 
(NPRM) requesting public comments on adopting the proposed change.\2\ 
We did not receive any comments on the temporary deviation or the NPRM. 
In 2017, LA-DOTD conducted a traffic study and replaced the four-way 
stop sign at the intersection of SR 22 and SR 21/SR 1077 with a traffic 
light. The test deviation expired on May 18, 2017.
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    \1\ Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Tchefuncta River, 
Madisonville, LA (81 FR 76866).
    \2\ Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Tchefuncta River, 
Madisonville, LA (81 FR 76889).
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    On June 14, 2018, the Coast Guard published a supplemental notice 
of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) titled Drawbridge Operation Regulation; 
Tchefuncta River, Madisonville, LA (83 FR 27732). The SNPRM contained a 
detailed regulatory history of this rule and explained our review of 
LA-DOTD's request in light of the study. The Coast Guard determined 
that the study did not support all of LA-DOTD's requested changes, but 
that there was a potential correlation between traffic congestion and 
bridge openings on weekday afternoons and that a regulation change may 
alleviate vehicular traffic while also providing for the reasonable 
needs of navigation. The SNPRM proposed to change the bridge operating 
schedule and allow the bridge to remain closed to marine traffic at the 
scheduled weekday openings at 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. 
Monday through Friday except federal holidays. The proposed change 
would allow vehicles to travel along SR 22

[[Page 53811]]

unimpeded by bridge openings for a two and a half-hour period during 
the weekday afternoon commute. During the comment period that ended on 
July 16, 2018, we received 300 comments.

III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority 33 U.S.C. 499. 
The Eighth Coast Guard District Commander has determined that this 
change to the operating schedule of the Madisonville (SR 22) swing span 
bridge that allows it to remain closed to marine traffic for a two and 
a half hour-period, after the 3:30 p.m. opening until the 6 p.m. 
opening on weekday afternoon commutes, is necessary and reasonable. The 
purpose of this rule is to alleviate vehicle congestion on SR 22 during 
peak afternoon traffic hours and meet the reasonable needs of 
recreational vessels to use the Tchefuncta River.

IV. Discussion of Comments, Changes, and the Rule

    As noted above, we received 300 comments on our SNPRM published on 
June 14, 2018. Of the comments we received, 287 were in favor of the 
proposed rule, 8 were not in favor of the proposed rule, and 5 comments 
were unclear as to whether or not they were in favor of the proposed 
rule.
    Nearly all the commenters expressed general dissatisfaction with 
the regular movement of vehicular traffic over the Madisonville (SR 22) 
swing span bridge. Of the 287 comments in favor of the two and one-half 
afternoon closure period during weekday afternoon commutes, 120 
commenters requested that the Coast Guard also consider a morning 
weekday closure; another 42 of the 287 commenters requested that the 
Coast Guard extend the period between all openings from a half hour to 
an hour; and another 30 requested that the Coast Guard extend the two 
and one-half hour afternoon closure to accommodate either earlier 
school traffic patterns or a longer rush hour period into the evening. 
Although the Coast Guard understands the commenters' well-stated 
concerns for requiring additional closures and fewer openings, the 
Coast Guard is in need of data upon which to propose such changes. At 
this time, the Coast Guard believes that there is insufficient 
objective evidence that making the schedule more restrictive to vessels 
would result in a corresponding alleviation in the traffic congestion.
    In particular, some commenters in support of the change claimed 
that recreational vessel use of the Tchefunta River, rather than 
commercial use, is insufficient use of the waterway to warrant a 
disproportionate inconvenience to motorists travelling on SR 22. 
However, a greater number of commenters also acknowledged that the 
opening of the drawbridge may not be the only factor causing the 
vehicular congestion, and that even closing the drawbridge entirely may 
not permanently solve the motorists' delay. The commenters pointed to 
the recent population increase in the area, the fact that SR 22 is one 
of only two routes over the Tchefunta River in the area, and the 
location of a traffic light less than 500 feet from the drawbridge as 
factors indicating that a land-based traffic management solution may be 
necessary. Some commenters recommended widening SR 22, replacing the 
swing-span bridge with a fixed bridge, adjusting the schedule of the 
nearby traffic light, or creating a circle pattern at the SR 22 and SR 
21/SR 1077 intersection. We have forwarded those comments to LA-DOTD.
    Of the 8 comments not in favor of the rule, most stated that the 
current schedule was acceptable and opposed any further restriction on 
bridge openings for vessels. In particular, some of the 8 commenters 
stated that waterways should take priority over roadways and echoed the 
above-mentioned statements that vessel traffic is not the cause of the 
motorists' delay, citing the increase in vehicular traffic and 
expressing an unwillingness to accommodate the local population 
increase. None of the commenters against the proposed afternoon closure 
presented an alternate closure period or presented any facts or data 
indicating that the recreational vessels could not adjust their 
transits according to the new schedule. In particular, one commenter 
expressed concern that the schedule would unnecessarily restrict tax-
paying vessel owners from taking evening sunset cruises from November 
to February. While the Coast Guard understands that this schedule 
change will impact evening vessel transits, the impact will only be 
during weeknights, when vehicular traffic is heaviest, and the weekend 
schedule will provide flexibility for vessels requiring evening 
openings.
    In addition, some commenters in favor of the rule expressed a 
misunderstanding as to the way the Coast Guard regulates drawbridges 
and their operation generally. As a preliminary matter, all drawbridges 
open ``on signal,'' which means that drawbridges must open promptly and 
fully for the passage of vessels when a request or signal to open is 
given in accordance with 33 CFR 117.15. In other words, even at the 
scheduled times in the regulation, the drawbridge does not open unless 
a vessel actually signals for an opening. Moreover, vessels may not 
signal for a drawbridge opening if the vertical clearance is sufficient 
to allow a vessel, after all lowerable nonstructural vessel 
appurtenances that are not essential to navigation have been lowered, 
to safely pass under the drawbridge in the closed position. 
Accordingly, the Coast Guard may assess penalties for the unnecessary 
opening of the draw. Finally, at least 6 commenters expressed concern 
overs delays of emergency medical vehicles. The Coast Guard regulations 
in 33 CFR 117.31 already address this issue, requiring that the 
drawtender make all reasonable efforts to close the draw when the 
emergency vehicle arrives. Nor did the Coast Guard receive comments 
from any police, fire, or emergency medical service providers that 
indicated concern with this regulation specific to their needs. In sum, 
the regulatory framework already provides: (1) That drawbridges do not 
open unless signaled by a vessel; (2) that vessels may be penalized for 
requesting unnecessary openings; and (3) that the drawbridge should 
close for emergency vehicles.
    The Coast Guard thanks all commenters for their participation in 
this rulemaking. After considering all of the 300 comments we received, 
the Coast Guard believes that the SNPRM's proposed schedule adopting a 
two and half-hour closure period for weeknight afternoon commutes will 
meet the reasonable needs of vessel traffic on the Tchefuncta River. 
Accordingly, there are no changes in the regulatory text of this rule 
from the proposed rule in the SNPRM.

V. Discussion of Final Rule

    This final rule changes the Madisonville (SR 22) swing span bridge 
operating schedule and allows the bridge to remain closed to marine 
traffic at the scheduled openings at 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., and 
5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except Federal holidays. Vessels may 
request an opening at 3:30 p.m., and again at 6 p.m. This allows 
vehicles to travel along SR 22 near Madisonville, LA unimpeded by 
bridge openings for a two and a half hour period during the afternoon 
commute. There are no other proposed changes to the operating schedule. 
The regulatory text appears at the end of this document.

VI. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and 
Executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses

[[Page 53812]]

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 rule has not been 
designated a ``significant regulatory action,'' under Executive Order 
12866. Accordingly, the rule 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 a reduction of 
commercial vessel traffic on this waterway, and the recreational 
powerboats and sailboats that routinely transit the bridge under the 
schedule. Those vessels with a vertical clearance requirement of less 
than 6.2 feet above mean high water may transit the bridge at any time, 
and the bridge will open in case of emergency at any time. This 
regulatory action takes into account the reasonable needs of vessel and 
vehicular traffic.

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 
fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 
50,000. The Coast Guard received no comments from the Small Business 
Administration on the November 4, 2016 NPRM. The Coast Guard certifies 
under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    While some owners or operators of vessels intending to transit the 
bridge may be small entities, for the reasons stated in section V.A 
above, this 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 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 
section.
    Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal 
employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with, Federal 
regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory 
Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory 
Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and 
rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to 
comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR 
(1-888-734-3247). 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.

C. Collection of Information

    This rule does not call for a new collection of information under 
the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

    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 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 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 rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, 
please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section.

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 rule would not result 
in such an expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule 
elsewhere in this preamble.

F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security 
Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which 
guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that 
this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or 
cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This 
rule involves a change to the operating schedule of a drawbridge. It is 
categorically excluded from further review under paragraph L49 of 
Appendix A, Table 1 of DHS Instruction Manual 023-01-001-01, Rev. 01. 
We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a 
significant environmental impact from this 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.

List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

    Bridges.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 
33 CFR part 117 as follows:

PART 117--DRAWBRIDGE OPERATION REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 117 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 33 U.S.C. 499; 33 CFR 1.05-1; Department of Homeland 
Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

0
2. Revise Sec.  117.500 to read as follows:


Sec.  117.500  Tchefuncta River.

    The draw of the S22 Bridge, mile 2.5, at Madisonville, LA shall 
open on signal from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. the draw 
need only open on the hour and half hour, except that:
    (a) From 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday except federal 
holidays the draw need only open on the hour; and

[[Page 53813]]

    (b) From 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except federal 
holidays the draw need not open.

    Dated: October 22, 2018.
Paul F. Thomas,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 2018-23367 Filed 10-24-18; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9110-04-P