Coast Guard finalizes regulations governing the Berkley Bridge operating schedule

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard 5th District commander will finalize the regulations governing the operating schedule of the Berkley Bridge Sept. 4.

These are the same rules that have been tested since March 3, and they will remain in effect until Oct. 5, 2012.

The regulations will allow the drawbridge to continue to operate with four opening periods between rush hours. The draw of the bridge will open on signal to vessels from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. to 2:50 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

“The changes made to the operating procedures from March 2010 through July 2010 appear to have reduced vehicular traffic congestion while still providing for the reasonable needs of navigation,” said Waverly Gregory, bridge administrator for the Coast Guard 5th District. “Based on our analysis, we will implement this temporary regulation as a final rule.”

The rule still allows the bridge to open on signal at any time for vessels carrying hazardous cargo. It will also open for vessels with a draft of 18 feet or more, provided a six-hour advance notice has been given.

If the bridge is not opened during the scheduled opening times at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m., a mariner can make arrangements for a delayed opening. The bridge tender may provide a single opening as long as 30 minutes past that scheduled opening time for that signaling vessel, except at 2:30 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., the bridge tender may provide a single opening only 20 minutes after that time. A vessel may make prior arrangements for a delayed opening by contacting the Berkley Bridge traffic control room at 757-494-2490.

A copy of this rule, Docket USCG-2009-0754, was published in the Federal Register Friday and is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-08-06/html/2010-19518.htm.

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