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Comment period opened on reduced drawbridge hours

Submitted by on 1, June 7, 2010 – 4:50 amOne Comment

The federal government has opened the comment period on a proposed plan to all but eliminate nighttime supervision of three drawbridges that connect Alameda to Oakland.

Interested parties have until August 25 to weigh in on the proposed changes to rules governing operation of the Park Street, High Street and Fruitvale bridges. Comments may be submitted online, via fax or by mail (or by hand, if you happen to be in the Washington, D.C. area this summer).

The county wants permission to require boaters to give four hours’ advance notice to have the draws lifted between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. From the Federal Register:

The Coast Guard proposes to modify the drawbridge operation regulation for the Alameda County and the Army Corps of Engineers owned drawbridges across Oakland Inner Harbor Tidal Canal, between Oakland and Alameda, California so that four hours advance notice for openings would be required from the waterway user to the bridge owner, between the hours 4:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. daily. With the exception of Federal Holidays, openings at all other times would be on signal except during interstate rush hours, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, when the drawbridges need not be opened for vessels. However, the draws would open during the above closed periods for vessels which must, for reasons of safety, move on a tide or slack water, if at least four hours advance notice is given. The proposed rule is requested by Alameda County to reduce the bridge staffing requirements during periods of reduced openings.

County officials said in April they believed the proposal could save them $600,000 a year, though opponents of the plan and local leaders have questioned whether it would save any money at all. County officials said it costs them $2.6 million a year to operate the draws.

Federal officials wrote that they don’t plan to study the potential costs and benefits of the proposed new rules, though they are asking owners of small businesses that may be impacted by them to comment in an effort to determine if the rules could harm a substantial number of small businesses. They are not at this time planning to hold a public meeting, though they say people can request one.

More information about the proposed new rule is available at www.regulations.gov, and the docket number you’ll need to enter is USCG-2009-0803.

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