MIAMI – The Coast Guard is seeking comment on the updated temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Florida East Coast Railroad Bridge, across the Okeechobee Waterway, mile 7.41 at Stuart, Fla., published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, February 6.
This deviation is effective starting at 12:01 a.m. on February 12, 2024.
The Coast Guard will accept comments on the revised temporary deviation for a period of 90 days to allow stakeholders an opportunity to provide input or feedback. Comments and related material may be submitted on https://www.regulations.gov, identified by docket number USCG-2022-0222, and must be submitted by May 6, 2024.
This deviation will modify the current temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railroad Bridge, across the Okeechobee Waterway (OWW). This modification tests an alternate temporary deviation to determine if the updated mobile application and simplified drawbridge opening requirements are reliable and predictable, to meet the reasonable needs of navigation and competing modes of transportation, given the increase of railway activity.
“As the regulatory agency responsible for drawbridge operating regulations, the Coast Guard’s priority is to establish a predictable operating schedule that allows mariners reasonable and safe access to the waterway,” said Randall Overton, Director of the Seventh Coast Guard District Bridge Program. “The Coast Guard is committed to striking a reasonable balance between the competing needs of land and waterborne modes of transportation.”
Under this temporary deviation, the FEC Stuart Railroad Bridge shall operate as follows from 12:01 a.m. on February 12, 2024, through 11:59 p.m. on August 9, 2024:
- The FEC Railroad Bridge will be maintained in the fully open-to-navigation position, except during periods when it is closed for the passage of train traffic, to conduct inspections, and to perform maintenance and repairs authorized by the Coast Guard. However, the bridge will not be closed for more than 50 consecutive minutes in any given hour during daytime operations (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and for more than seven total hours during daytime operations (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
- Notwithstanding the above paragraph, the drawbridge will open and remain open to navigation for a fixed 10-minute period at the top of each hour from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- From 8:01 p.m. until 5:59 a.m. daily, the drawbridge will remain in the fully open-to-navigation position, except during periods when it is closed for the passage of train traffic, to conduct inspections, and to perform maintenance and repairs authorized by the Coast Guard. The drawbridge will not be closed more than 60 consecutive minutes.
- If a train is in the track circuit at the start of a fixed opening period, the opening may be delayed up to, but not more than, five minutes. Once the train has cleared the circuit, the bridge must open immediately for navigation to begin the fixed opening period.
- The bridge will be tended from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The tender will monitor VHF-FM channels 9 and 16 providing operational information about the bridge as requested. Additionally, operational information will be provided 24 hours a day by telephone at (772) 403-1005.
- Coast Guard Sector Miami will also announce the updated temporary deviation in the weekly Local Notice to Mariners, via a Broadcast Notice to Mariners, and a Marine Safety Information Bulletin.
The public may submit comments through the Federal Decision-Making Portal. To do so, click on the following link: https://www.regulations.gov. Interested parties are encouraged to communicate their opinion and position on the revised deviation by clicking the Comment box option at the top left of the page to add their comments.
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