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appliances that are now required by law, rule, or regulation, to enable the vessels to navigate or operate under bridges constructed over navigable streams.
The present-day relationship between water and land transportation is such that every effort should be extended that each of these two modes of transportation may involve a minimum of interference with the other. Such efforts should be consistent with the greatest economy for each as well as due consideration for the public interest and safety.
The Bureau of Public Roads of this Department has been striving during recent years to obtain reasonable reductions in the navigational clearances required for highway bridges constructed with Federal-aid highway funds, with the objective of reducing the cost of the navigational increment of highway bridges whenever and wherever it is feasible without unduly affecting the reasonable requirements of waterway transportation.
One of the problems involved is the inconsistency in requirements for navigational lights on vessels operating on inland waters. On these waters, seagoing vessels must, in some cases, and may, in other cases, carry the lights required under the international rules.
The international rules necessitate the carrying of range lights at an elevation substantially higher than that required under the rules applicable to vessels operating only on inland waters.
We have a situation, therefore, wherein a seagoing vessel operating on the inland waters usually carries its lights at a much greater height than a vessel of similiar size that operates only on inland waters.
At present, there is no provision in the law which would permit flexibility on the part of the Coast Guard in dealing with problems posed by vessels operating under the international rules and other vessels with high-range lights when operating under bridges constructed over inland waters.
Enactment of H.R. 75 would provide this needed flexibility in allowing the Coast Guard to permit those vessels having the higher lights to lower such lights when they desire to navigate under these bridges.
The lowering of these lights would be of great benefit to highway transportation. In some cases, the lowering of the lights would make it unnecessary to open the medium height drawbridge now existing on the busy high traffic highways in and around our coastal cities.
This reduction in the number of openings of existing drawbridges would result in an appreciable reduction in the land transportation costs by reducing the delays to land transportation at these bridges.
In other cases, the lowering of the lights would make it possible for waterway traffic to pass under drawbridges on which special operating regulations have been established without waiting for the period in which the bridge must be opened under the special regulations. This would result in a reduction in waterway transportation costs.
In still other cases, the existence of this authority to lower lights, day signals, and other navigational means and appliances would make possible the construction of fixed rather than movable bridges. This would, of course, reduce both highway construction costs and vehicle operating costs without in any way affecting the navigability of the waterway.
The savings which would be brought about by the enactment of this bill would accrue directly to the waterway user, the highway user, and the local, State, and Federal highway programs.
Indirectly, these savings would benefit the general public in the form of reduced transportation costs and tax savings.
Its enactment also would be beneficial in serving to mitigate the differences that now exist between the land and waterway transportation interests in regard to the vertical clearances to be provided in bridges constructed over our inland waterways.
Legislation of this kind would provide official recognition for effective treatment of a rapidly growing problem in surface transportation relationships.
The Department of Commerce recommends H.R. 75 for the favorable consideration of this committee and of the Congress.
Mr. GARMATZ. Are there any questions, Mr. Tupper?
Mr. MORTON. Mr. Deuterman, I would like to explore this proposition of new construction of bridges just for a minute.
As I understood the admiral, he said what we were doing here in the passing of this bill was to recognize a procedure that already exists. We have ships passing through bridges of low clearance and at the present time they are lowering their navigational lights and their mast rigs in order to get under the bridge.
But are we implying in this bill, in your mind, that we are creating a necessity for ships to lower their rig, and develop a lower clearance so that we can build bridges of lower clearance that, in your statement, will be less expensive to both the taxpayer and to the automotive transportation, or land transportation?
Mr. DEUTERMAN. The present procedure is that an economic analysis is made when a bridge crosses navigable waters, and the Corps of Engineers has a hearing on the subject and decides which is the most advantageous to the public transportation on highways and navigable rivers.
Mr. Morton. I realize that. I was wondering whether you felt or if your Department felt that this was a precedent or was legislation that was prerequisite to the development of a bridge program of considerably lower clearances than the bridges that exist today.
Mr. DEUTERMAN. No, sir; it may be in isolated cases, but not in general.
Mr. MORTON. Thank you very much.
Mr. GARMATZ. The next witness will be Mr. Braxton Carr, representing the American Waterways Operators, Inc. STATEMENT OF BRAXTON B. CARR, PRESIDENT, THE AMERICAN
WATERWAYS OPERATORS, INC. Mr. Carr. My name is Braxton B. Carr. I am president of the American Waterways Operators, Inc., which is a nonprofit membership trade association, representing the operators of shallow-draft vessels that ply the inland waterways of the United States.
We also have in our membership, Mr. Chairman, some allied interests, shipbuilders, ship repairers, and terminal operators.
I will address myself to H.R. 75 at this point.
I am here under specific authorization of our board of directors to voice an objection to this bill, Mr. Chairman. It seems to us that this legislation, if it is passed, can be used as a lever to seek lowered clearances of bridges over the navigable waterways of the United States.
This is a fight that we run into constantly, almost daily, somewhere over navigable waters.
Efforts are being made, for one reason or another, to lower the vertical clearances. We are told constantly in public hearings that there seems to be no reason why towboat and tugboat operators should not be able to take their radar masts, for instance, off the top of the pilothouse.
It has been suggested that we put it down on the deck of the vessel or that we use movable radar masts. As the members of this committee know, the radar mast height is the eye of a towing vessel, and if you lower it, you lower the range of sight.
It is a very sensitive instrument, and in cases where masts are hinged, as they are in certain specially built boats that operate on the Illinois Waterway, where we only have 25 feet of vertical clearance in the bridges, we have repair people that spend more time abroad the boats repairing the radar masts simply because they are hinged and lowered than they spend anyplace else.
It has also been suggested that this industry can adopt a telescope pilothouse in order to get under lower bridges. We do have some boats that operate on the Illinois Waterway with telescoping pilothouses, but this makes for inefficient transportation when it is done.
Our objection to this bill is simply based on our belief that it will be used as a lever to lower the vertical clearances in bridges and thereby reduce the efficiency of transportation on the inland waters.
Mr. GARMATZ. Do you want to put the other part of your statement in the record with reference to H.R. 75?
Mr. CARR. Yes, Mr. Chairman, if you would like to take it at this point.
The American Waterways Operators, Inc., has an interest in H.R. 75 which is designed to give the Coast Guard authority to permit vessels navigating under bridges constructed over navigable water to lower temporarily any lights, day signals, or other navigational means and appliances prescribed or required by law or regulation in order to transit under the bridges. We object to this proposed legislation for reasons which to us, at least, are very simple.
Constant pressure is being exerted from various sources to lower the vertical clearances of bridges crossing navigable channels in the United States. The problem created by unreasonably low bridges or other structures crossing the navigable waterways is not peculiar to the barge and towing vessel industry alone, but affects all navigation, including shallow-draft self-propelled freighting vessels that use some reaches of the inland channels, and oceangoing vessels which come into portions of the interior waters. The efficient movement of commerce, the safety of personnel and property can be jeopardized by permitting lower bridges and other structures crossing the navigable waters and thereby, in turn, impair the ability of the vessels to navigate. Under the pressures already being exerted for lower bridges over the navigable waterways, and the industry lives with these pressures almost daily, we believe enactment of H.R. 75 can be and will be used as a lever. The position undoubtedly will be taken that this legislation is an expression by the Congress that vessels can be granted permission to lower their structures to navigate under bridges which they otherwise could not transit. And while this legislation is aimed at giving permissive authority to the Coast Guard, our fear is that the proponents of lower bridges over the navigable waters will use it in their arguments with the Corps of Engineers in seeking permits for building bridges with less navigation clearance than otherwise would be required.
We urge the committee's consideration of the water carrier industry's strong fears in this respect and respect fully request rejection of H.R. 75.
Mr. GARMATZ. Are there any questions, Mr. Tupper?
Mr. ZINCKE. Mr. Carr, you discussed the efficiency of transportation. You do not consider the detriment to efficiency of transportation in the raising and lowering of bridges which interfere with highway traffic or rail traffic in your statement, do you?
Mr. Carr. I have not, sir.
Mr. ZINCKE. So, you are referring merely to efficient transportation on your own medium?
Mr. Carr. This is correct, sir.
Mr. CARR. Yes, sir, we would be.
Mr. ZINCKE. You refer to the question of safety by reason of the relocation or redesign of radar masts. You were present when Admiral Rohnke testified ?
Mr. CARR. Yes, sir.
Mr. ZINCKE. And you are reasonably convinced that the Coast Guard has sa fety in mind in its regulations?
Mr. CARR. I am, sir.
Mr. ZINCKE. Admiral Rohnke saw no particular difficulty in that. Did he?
Mr. CARR. No. He did not.
Mr. GARMATZ. There is nothing compulsory about this legislation. It
says that the Coast Guard may permit vessels desiring to navigate or operate under the bridges constructed on navigable waters of the United States through temporarily lowering any lights, day signals, or otherwise, and so forth.
So there is nothing compulsory but it is optional. If the Coast Guard would give the shipowner permission to do those things, I don't see anything to require that the owner comply with certain rules and regulations in the lowering of the masts and so forth.