Coast Guard issues temporary change to Gilmerton Bridge lift schedule

Gilmerton Bridge photo courtesy VaDOT

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard issued a temporary deviation Wednesday from the regulation governing the operation of the Gilmerton Bridge in Chesapeake.

The changes to the lift schedule, which go into effect 6:30 a.m., Dec. 20 and remain until 6:30 p.m., June 18, 2011 are proposed in efforts to alleviate increased delays to vehicular traffic due to the construction of the Gilmerton Highway Bridge while still allowing passage for maritime traffic.

“Due to the construction of the Gilmerton Highway Bridge, the existing drawbridge has experienced increased delays to vehicular traffic from unscheduled vessel openings,” said Waverly Gregory, Coast Guard 5th District bridge administrator. “This test schedule will provide adjustments and set opening periods for the bridge, relieving vehicular traffic congestion during the weekday and weekend daylight hours while still providing for the reasonable needs of navigation.”

The temporary schedule will require that the draw shall open on signal at any time for commercial vessels carrying liquefied flammable gas or other hazardous materials. From 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, the draw need not open for the passage of recreational or commercial vessels; except the draw shall open anytime for commercial cargo vessels, including tugs, and tugs with tows, if two hours advance notice is given to the Gilmerton Bridge at 757-545-1512.

From 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Federal holidays, the draw shall open on signal hourly on the half hour; except the draw shall open anytime for commercial cargo vessels, including tugs, and tugs with tows, if two hours advance notice is given to the Gilmerton Bridge at 757-545-1512. At all other times, the draw shall open on signal.

A Notice of Proposed rulemaking, USCG–2010–0879, is being issued in conjunction with this temporary deviation to obtain additional public comments. The proposed rule will be in effect for three years until Dec. 20, 2013. The Coast Guard will evaluate public comments from this test deviation and the above-referenced Notice of Proposed rulemaking to determine if a temporary change to the drawbridge operating regulation at 33 CFR 117.997(c) is warranted.

The Coast Guard is asking interested parties to express their views in writing on the temporary deviation from the operating regulations and the notice of proposed rulemaking. Comments must be received on or before April 18, 2011 and should be identified by docket number USCG-2010-0879. To avoid duplication, please use only one of these following methods:

1. Federal rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov

2. Fax: 202-493-2251.

3. Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001 or to Commander dpb, Coast Guard Fifth District, 431 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, VA, 23704

4. Hand delivery: Same as Washington, D.C. mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.

For further questions on this proposed rule, contact Waverly Gregory, bridge administrator for the Coast Guard 5th District at 757-398-6222 or e-mail at Waverly.W.Gregory@uscg.mil.

To view the deviation and the proposed rule under Docket No. USCG–2010–0879, go to http://federalregister.gov/a/2010-28737 or http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-11-16/pdf/2010-28737.pdf

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