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United States Regulations

Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters



Authority: c. 425, sec. 9, 30 Stat. 1151 (33 U.S.C. 401); c. 1130, sec 1, 34 Stat. 84 (33 U.S.C. 491); sec. 5, 28 Stat. 362, as amended (33 U.S.C. 499); sec. 11, 54 Stat. 501, as amended (33 U.S.C. 521); c. 753, Title V, sec. 502, 60 Stat. 847, as amended (33 U.S.C. 525); 86 Stat. 732 (33 U.S.C. 535); 14 U.S.C. 633; sec. g(6), 80 Stat. 941 (49 U.S.C. 1655(g)); 49 CFR 1.46(c).

Source: CGFR 67–46, 32 FR 17771, Dec. 12, 1967, unless otherwise noted.

§ 115.01 Purpose.
This part states the requirements for applying for a permit for construction of or modification to bridges crossing the navigable waters of the United States. It also sets forth the procedures by which the application is processed by the Coast Guard.

[CGD 82–006, 47 FR 36641, Aug. 23, 1982]

§ 115.05 Necessary primary authority.
For bridges constructed by State or municipal agencies, the primary authority will be presumed without proof. If the law of the State requires a license for or approval of the bridge from a constituted State agency, a copy of such license or approval will be required and may be accepted as evidence of the primary authority. If there be no State regulation of bridges in navigable waters, the necessary primary authority may be that granted in the charter of a corporation, or the authority inherent in the ownership of the land on which the structure is placed. The applicant will in such cases be required to furnish an extract from the charter, or a statement of ownership. Especial care will be taken that Federal approval is not granted when there is doubt of the right of the builder to construct and utilize the bridge.

§ 115.10 Limiting date in permits.
(a) Specific time limitations are inserted in all permits for the commencement of construction and completion thereof. Normally three years for start of construction and two additional years for completion may be allowed.

(b) Specific time limitations are inserted in all permits for the removal of bridges being replaced in whole or in part by the newly permitted bridges where removal thereof is required as a condition of the permit. Normally 90 days for removal after completion of the new bridge or opening to land transportation, whichever occurs first, may be allowed.

[CGD 75–046, 40 FR 24898, June 11, 1975, as amended by CGD 80–099, 46 FR 38354, July 27, 1981]

§ 115.15 Permit bonds.
When compensatory works or the removal of temporary structures should be required of the permittee, or in other unusual cases when there is reason to anticipate that the permittee may fail to carry out parts of the work that are against his interest, an additional condition will be included in the permit requiring the permittee to furnish a bond insuring compliance with the permit requirements.

§ 115.20 Transfer of permits.
Permits express merely the assent of the Federal Government so far as concerns the public rights of navigation. Although issued to a specific party, the assent is not limited to execution of the work by that party and may be availed of by the assignees or purchasers of the property affected, provided the terms of the instrument are strictly complied with.

§ 115.30 Sufficiency of State authority for bridges.
An opinion of the attorney general of the State as to the sufficiency of State authority for the construction of a bridge is acceptable to the Coast Guard in doubtful cases.

§ 115.40 Bridge repairs.
Repairs to a bridge which do not alter the clearances, type of structure, or any integral part of the substructure or superstructure or navigation conditions, but which consist only in the replacement of worn or obsolete parts, may, if the bridge is a legally approved structure, be made as routine maintenance without approval of the U.S. Coast Guard.

§ 115.50 Application for bridge permits.
(a) Approval of plans. An application for authorization to construct a bridge across navigable waters of the United States must show the name and address of the applicant; the waterway and location of the bridge; citation to the act of Congress or the State legislature authorizing the bridge; be accompanied by a map of the location and plans of the bridge showing the features which affect navigation; and papers to establish the identity of the applicant.

(b) Prior authority necessary. Except as provided under paragraph (c) of this section, a bridge cannot lawfully be constructed across any navigable waterway of the United States until the location and plans have been approved by the Coast Guard.

(c) Prior authority not necessary. Coast Guard approval of the location and plans for construction or modification of a bridge or causeway is not required for any bridge or causeway over waters which are not subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and which are not used and are not susceptible to use in their natural condition or by reasonable improvement as a means to transport interstate or foreign commerce, whether or not such waters were used or were susceptible to use, at some previous time, to transport commerce (historic use). This provision does not apply to bridges which connect the United States with any foreign country.

(d) Form. The application for the approval of plans consists of a letter accompanied with maps and plans of the proposed structure.

(e) Signature. In case of signature by an agent or by an official of a corporation, a duly authenticated copy of the authority for the action must accompany the application.

(f) Identification. If the applicant is a corporation, it must furnish certified copies of the following papers, all properly authenticated: The charter or articles of incorporation; the minutes of organization; extract from minutes showing the names of the present officers of the corporation.

(1) Where State laws vest in State or county officers, such as boards of supervisors and county courts, the power to authorize the construction of bridges, they must furnish with their application certified extracts from their proceedings showing their action authorizing the proposed structure.

(g) Plans. Four sets of plans must be submitted with the application, on which the location of the work and the essential features covered by the application will be outlined in red. Each drawing must have a simple title, date and number, preferably in the lower righthand corner.

(h) Size of sheets. The drawings will be on letter size sheets. As few sheets will be used as necessary to show clearly what is proposed.

(i) Special instructions. (1) The scale will be shown graphically. The north and south line will be indicated by a meridian arrow. Soundings and elevations will be shown in feet and referred to the established Government datum plane at the locality.

(2) The direction of currents will be indicated by an arrow, and the strength of currents, both ebb and flow, or low water and high water, will be shown close to the proposed location of the bridge, and at both ends of the waterway shown on the map of location.

(3) The plans will show in figures the least clear height of the lowest part of the superstructure over navigation openings, with reference to the planes of mean high water and mean low water if the bridge is to cross tidal water. If the waters are nontidal, the least clear height will be shown with reference to the planes of extreme high water and mean low water. If records of river heights are available, the plane above which flood waters have not remained more than 2 percent of the time will be indicated. Reference will also be made to other datum planes if appropriate for the waterway in question.

(4) If harbor lines have been established at the site of the bridge, their position will be shown on the plans.

(j) Structural details. Only those should be shown which are needed to illustrate the effect of the proposed structure on navigation. If the bridge is to be equipped with a draw, the latter will be shown in two positions: closed and open.

(k) To whom application should be presented. The application and the papers and plans accompanying it should be submitted to the District Commander having jurisdiction over the area in which the bridge site is located.

[CGFR 67–46, 32 FR 17771, Dec. 12, 1967, as amended by CGD 75–046, 40 FR 24898, June 11, 1975; CGD 80–099, 46 FR 38354, July 27, 1981; CGD 82–102, 48 FR 54299, Dec. 2, 1982]

§ 115.60 Procedures for handling applications for bridge construction permits.
The following procedures will be observed in the handling of applications for permits to construct, modify, or replace bridges over navigable waters.

(a) District Commander's review of application and plans. When an application is received, the District Commander verifies the authority for construction of the bridge, reviews, the application and plans for sufficiency, ascertains the views of local authorities and other interested parties, and ensures that the application complies with relevant environmental laws, regulations, and orders. If the application contains any defects that would prevent issuance of a permit (as for example, if the proposed bridge provided insufficient clearance), the applicant is notified that the permit cannot be granted and given reasons for this determination. The applicant may then request that the application be considered by the Commandant. If the applicant makes such a request, or if the applicaton is not found defective, the District Commander notifies the public that it has been received and continues its processing. A copy of this notification will be sent to the state, interstate agency or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responsible for acting on requests for water quality certification for the project. If the state, interstate agency, or the EPA fails to issue or deny the water quality certification within 30 days after receiving the copy of this notification, the requirements for a water quality certification are waived. If the appropriate agency notifies the District Commander that the applicant has not filed a request for water quality certification, or requests additional time to review an application, additional time will be granted.

(b) Public hearing. (1) Public hearings will be held when there are substantial issues concerning the effect that the proposed bridge will have on the reasonable needs of navigation.

(2) Notice of the public hearing will be published in the Federal Register. Notice of the hearing is also mailed to State, county, and municipal authorities and all other known interested parties. It is also posted at the post office nearest the site and public places in the vicinity.

(3) Hearings are public and conducted in an informal manner. A designated Coast Guard official presides. The submission of written statements is invited and encouraged. Anyone desiring to do so may speak. Statements, written or oral, are not under oath, and cross-examination is not permitted. No fixed order has been established for the presentation of evidence or argument although proponents are generally heard first, followed by opponents with full opportunity afforded for rebuttals.

(c) Report and recommendations. After the close of the comment period and any public hearings, a detailed statement of findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on all available information (including Coast Guard records and experience) is prepared. The following factors may be discussed in this report:

(1) Comparison of proposed bridge with existing bridges over the waterway; attitude of local authorities; summary of objections raised by the public, and District Commander's comments or responses; probable effect on navigation, present and prospective.

(2) Description of the navigation on the waterway past the site of the proposed bridge, the number and type of vessels, the number of vessel trips, and the principal method of handling traffic, whether in single vessels or in tows.

(3) Whether the District Commander approves, or recommends approval of the plans. If they are found objectionable, the reasons for this finding will be stated. If there are objectionable features in the plans which may be corrected, the applicant is given an opportunity to revise them. If approval is given or recommended, all conditions to which the permit should be subject will be stated.

(d) Action on permit application. (1) The District Commander may issue the permit if authorized under §1.01–60(b) of this chapter; otherwise, a report with the application shall be submitted to the Commandant for final action.

(2) When an application is approved, the issuing official signs the permit and transmits it to the applicant.

(3) When an application is not approved, the applicant is notified and provided with reasons for the disapproval, and suggestions for modifications that would justify reconsideration, if appropriate.

(4) If an application is disapproved by the District Commander, the applicant may appeal this decision to the Commandant under §114.50 of this chapter. The Commandant's determination shall constitute final agency action.

(e) Permit amendments. Applications for amendments to permits will be processed in the same manner as permit applications. The District Commander may approve amendments to any permits which that official is authorized to issue under §1.01–60(b) of this chapter. All other amendments must be approved by the Commandant.

(5 U.S.C. 559; 14 U.S.C. 633; 33 U.S.C. 401, 491, 499, and 525; 49 U.S.C. 1655(g), and 49 CFR 1.46(c) and (q))

[CGD 80–099, 46 FR 38354, July 27, 1981; 46 FR 42268, Aug. 20, 1981, as amended by CGD 82–006, 47 FR 36641, Aug. 23, 1982; CGD 82–074, 47 FR 51865, Nov. 18, 1982]

§ 115.70 Advance approval of bridges.
(a) The General Bridge Act of 1946 requires the approval of the location and plans of bridges prior to start of construction (33 U.S.C. 525). The Commandant has given his advance approval to the location and plans of bridges to be constructed across reaches of waterways navigable in law, but not actually navigated other than by logs, log rafts, rowboats, canoes and small motorboats. In such cases the clearances provided for high water stages will be considered adequate to meet the reasonable needs of navigation.

(b) The term “small motorboats” shall be interpreted in the light of the things and conditions with which it is associated. The term means rowboats, canoes and other similar craft with outboard motors. It does not include sailing or cabin cruiser craft.

(14 U.S.C. 633; 33 U.S.C. 401, 491, and 525; 49 U.S.C. 1655(g); and 49 CFR 1.46(c))

[CGFR 67–46, 32 FR 17771, Dec. 12, 1967, as amended by CGD 81–076, 46 FR 54936, Nov. 5, 1981; USCG–1998–3799, 63 FR 35527, June 30, 1998]