[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 84 (Tuesday, May 4, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 23639-23641]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-09002]



Coast Guard

33 CFR Part 117

[Docket No. USCG-2020-0034]
RIN 1625-AA09

Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Chicago River, Chicago, IL

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: The Coast Guard proposes to authorize 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 proposed rule will improve 
vessel flow through the river. This proposed rule will not change the 
operating schedule of the bridge.

DATES: Comments and relate material must reach the Coast Guard on or 
before June 3, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-
2020-0034 using Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov. See the ``Public Participation and Request for 
Comments'' portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for 
instructions on submitting comments.

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


I. Table of Abbreviations

CFR Code of Federal Regulations
DHS Department of Homeland Security
FR Federal Register
IGLD85 International Great Lakes Datum of 1985
LWD Low Water Datum based on IGLD85
OMB Office of Management and Budget
NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Advance, Supplemental)
Sec.  Section
U.S.C. United States Code

II. 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 down 
position and 65 feet in the open position above LWD and a horizontal 
clearance of 156 feet. The bridge crosses the river on a slight skew on 
an ``S'' curve in the river requiring longer vessels to use most of the 
horizontal clearance for maneuvering. The South Branch of the Chicago 
River is part of a network of waterways that allow vessels to travel 
from Chicago, IL to New Orleans, LA. Cook County described the Chicago 
River as the 5th 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. 
Most vessels can pass under all the bridges in the Chicago metropolitan 
area without an opening, except the Amtrak Bridge. During an average 
weekday, 150,000 commuters travel over the Amtrak Bridge.
    In accordance with general bridge regulations a drawbridge must 
open promptly and fully when signaled to open. Lifting the bridge to 65 
feet for every vessel when most vessels only need an additional 10 feet 
of clearance increases the delay experienced by all modes of 
    The Amtrak Bridge has been operating remotely for several years 
without any concerns for the mariners.

III. Discussion of Proposed Rule

    We propose to include in the regulations that the AMTRAK Bridge is 
authorized to operate remotely.
    We also propose to allow the bridge to open to an intermediate 
position that will provide a vertical clearance of 34 feet above LWD. A 
yellow light at the center of the bridge, visible to vessels 
approaching the bridge from both upriver and downriver sides will 
verify the bridge has met the intermediate height. At any time a vessel 
with greater air draft can radio the drawtender and request a full 
opening. This proposed rule is expected to increase bridge availability 
to all users by 50%.

[[Page 23640]]

    On April 8, 2020, we published a Temporary Deviation in the Federal 
Register (85 FR 19659) testing the remote operation and the 
intermediate height and requested comments from the mariners over the 
summer boating season. No comments were received.

IV. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this proposed rule after considering numerous statutes 
and Executive Orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our 
analyses 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. This NPRM has not been designated a ``significant 
regulatory action,'' under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the NPRM 
has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
    This regulatory action determination is based on the ability that 
vessels can still transit the bridge without changing the bridge 
schedule and keeping the maximum advertised clearance available for 
vessels as needed.

B. Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 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 certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this 
proposed 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 IV.A above this proposed rule would not have 
a significant economic impact on any vessel owner or operator by 
keeping the original schedule and having the maximum lift available on 
    If you think that your business, organization, or governmental 
jurisdiction qualifies as a small entity and that this rule would have 
a significant economic impact on it, please submit a comment (see 
ADDRESSES) explaining why you think it qualifies and how and to what 
degree this rule would economically affect it.
    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 proposed 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, above. The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small 
entities that question or complain about this proposed rule or any 
policy or action of the Coast Guard.

C. Collection of Information

    This proposed rule would call for no new collection of information 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520.).

D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Government

    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 proposed rule under that Order and 
have determined that it is consistent with the fundamental federalism 
principles and preemption requirements described in Executive Order 
    Also, this proposed 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 proposed rule has implications for federalism or 
Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER 

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

F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security 
Management Directive 023-01, U.S. Coast Guard Environmental Planning 
Policy COMDTINST 5090.1 (series) and U.S. Coast Guard Environmental 
Planning Implementation Procedures (series) which guide the Coast Guard 
in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) 
(42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f). We have made a preliminary determination 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 
proposed rule promulgates the operating regulations or procedures for 
drawbridges. Normally this action is categorically excluded from 
further review, under paragraph L49, of Chapter 3, Table3-1 of the U.S. 
Coast Guard Environmental Planning Implementation Procedures.
    Neither a Record of Environmental Consideration nor a Memorandum 
for the Record are required for 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.

V. 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 comment 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 https://www.regulations.gov. If your material cannot be 
submitted using https://www.regulations.gov, contact the person in the 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate 

[[Page 23641]]

    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 the 
docket, visit https://www.regulations.gov/privacynotice.
    Documents mentioned in this NPRM as being available in this docket 
and all public comments, will be in our online docket at https://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.

List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117


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


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

    Authority: 33 U.S.C. 499; 33 CFR 1.05-1; DHS Delegation No. 

2. Revise Sec.  117.391 by adding paragraph (d) to read as follows:

Sec.  117.391  Chicago River.

* * * * *
    (d) The Amtrak Bridge, mile 3.77, is authorized to operate remotely 
and open to the intermediate position on signal, unless a request for a 
full opening is received by the drawtender. The bridge is required to 
operate a marine radio.

    Dated: April 5, 2021.
D.L. Cottrell,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Ninth Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 2021-09002 Filed 5-3-21; 8:45 am]