New Coast Guard info on the low-bridge-restrictions proposal

March 6, 2008 11:26 am
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 |   Transportation | West Seattle news


(photo by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli)

As reported here earlier this week, West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s campaign for rush-hour restrictions on the opening of the “low bridge” is making some headway. We told you yesterday that the Coast Guard’s regional bridge commander was quoted in a newspaper story as saying the proposal was about to be published for public comment and that we had a call out to him for further elaboration. He called back this morning and indeed had more details than were included in that newspaper article:

Austin Pratt is regional bridge commander for the U.S. Coast Guard. First, he says, the proposal will not necessarily be published next week as reported — but “next week at the soonest”; it might not appear till later this month. The official publication will be in the Federal Register, since this request involves a federal rule (that’s who has jurisdiction over drawbridges); that’s published daily (you can find the FR online here), and a summary also will be in the Coast Guard’s weekly update for local mariners (you can find that here).

Pratt says it’s not a slam dunk, since he is anticipating pushback from local business concerns – he said he had already heard from a construction company concerned about the prospect of restrictions on when its large cranes would be able to get through. However, he also noted that, as Councilmember Rasmussen said, there would be exemptions for vessels dependent on tide-related windows, and involved in emergency projects. The “no opening between 7 and 9 am and 4-6 pm weekdays” would be a general restriction that could be waived on a case-by-case basis at any time.

He had one other important thing he wants you to know — there will be an initial 60-day public comment period once the proposal is published, and he says your feedback may not officially count if it comes in before then — for the feedback to get official consideration from decisionmakers, it needs to include the “docket number” that will be part of the proposal publication. (We will of course mention it here as soon as that is available.) Then, after that public-comment period, if the proposal is still going forward, there will be a further one-month review period.

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