[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 68 (Wednesday, April 8, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 19659-19660]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-06823]



Coast Guard

33 CFR Part 117

[Docket No. USCG-2020-0034]

Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Chicago River, Chicago, IL

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of temporary deviation from regulations; request for 


SUMMARY: The Coast Guard authorizes the Amtrak Railroad Bridge, mile 
3.77, across the South Branch of the Chicago River, to be operated 
remotely and establish an intermediate opening position. The request 
was made by the bridge owner. This test deviation will test if the 
intermediate position improves vessel flow through the river. The 
bridge will continue to open on signal for commercial and recreational 

    Effective date: This deviation is effective from midnight on June 
1, 2020 to midnight on September 1, 2020.
    Comment date: Comments and relate material must reach the Coast 
Guard on or before September 2, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-
2020-0034 using Federal eRulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov.
    See the ``Public Participation and Request for Comments'' portion 

[[Page 19660]]

below for instructions on submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this rule, 
call or email Mr. Lee D. Soule, Bridge Management Specialist, Ninth 
Coast Guard District; telephone 216-902-6085, email 
[email protected].


I. Background, Purpose, and Legal Basis

    The Amtrak Railroad Bridge, mile 3.77, over the South Branch of the 
Chicago River provides a vertical clearance of 10 feet in the closed 
position and 65 feet in the open position based on International Great 
Lakes Datum of 1985 (IGLD85). The bridge opens an average of twelve 
times a day for vessels. An average of 150,000 rail commuters cross the 
bridge daily along with freight and other passenger trains. The South 
Branch of the Chicago River is part of a network of waterways that 
allows vessels to travel from Chicago, IL to New Orleans, LA. Cook 
County, IL, described the Chicago River as the fifth largest port in 
the United States, hosting commercial vessels over 300 tons, 
recreational power and sailing vessels, several passenger vessels, 
water taxies, paddle boats, and various paddle craft. With the 
exception of the Amtrak Bridge, vessels can pass under all the bridges 
in the Chicago metropolitan area without an opening.
    In accordance with general bridge regulations found in 33 CFR 
117.5, a drawbridge must open promptly and fully when signaled to open. 
Not every vessel needs the Amtrak Bridge to open to the full 65 feet 
and we believe the test deviation will show the Amtrak Bridge can open 
half way and allow most vessels to pass. Vessels that need a full 
opening can request it without advance notice. We believe that opening 
to an intermediary position will increase the bridge availability by 
50% to both rail and vessels. It was recently discovered the remote 
operations of the Amtrak Bridge has not been included in the current 
regulation; but has been operating without concerns from the maritime 
community. The drawbridge currently operates under title 33 of the Code 
of Federal Regulation (CFR), Sec.  117.391.
    The test deviation is necessary to allow the public to observe the 
bridge in operation and allow the permanent and seasonal residents of 
the area the opportunity to comment on the operation of the bridge in 
the intermediate position. The test schedule will run from midnight on 
June 1, 2020 to midnight on September 1, 2020.
    The bridge owner will continue to maintain a drawtender's log and 
provide those logs at the end of the test deviation. Vessels able to 
safely pass under the bridge without an opening may do so at any time 
and vessels may request a full opening without advance notice.
    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.

II. 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 comments 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 
    We encourage you to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. If your material cannot be 
submitted using http://www.regulations.gov, contact the person in the 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate 
    We accept anonymous comments. All comments received will be posted 
without change to https://www.regulations.gov and will include any 
personal information you have provided. For more about privacy and 
submissions in response to this document, see DHS's eRulemaking System 
of Records notice (85 FR 14226, March 11, 2020).
    All public comments will be in our online docket at http://www.regulations.gov, 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.

D.L. Cottrell,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Ninth Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 2020-06823 Filed 4-7-20; 8:45 am]