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Old 04-01-2012, 20:56   #1
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Bridge Openings for Commercial Vessels

Here's one they don't teach you in the class, so...

Is it all bridges that will open on demand for commercial vessels or just specific ones?

Is it all commercial vessels that can get an immediate opening, or just certain types of commercial vessels?

And assuming the answer to both of those questions are all...and yes I realize I'd know this, if I paid a little closer attention on the VHF...how exactly do you identify yourself as a commercial vessel, when requesting an opening?
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Old 04-01-2012, 21:00   #2
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

Probably has a lot to do with being rusty and big.
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Old 04-01-2012, 21:04   #3
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

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Originally Posted by tager View Post
Probably has a lot to do with being rusty and big.
That's kind of what I'm thinking.
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Old 04-01-2012, 21:11   #4
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

Commercial vessel bridge opening regulations seem to vary with each individual bridge along the AICW depending upon the land traffic situation. Here is an excerpt of the Fed Regs that are changing for the bridge at Chesapeake, Va.:
Federal Register | Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW), Elizabeth River, Southern Branch, Virginia

And some bridges specify exactly who can get "immediate" openings so not all "commercial" vessels qualify. See: F.I.N.D. Florida Inland Navigation District - Bridge Regulations

So it is bridge specific although several bridges may be the same in a particular area. And the immediate openings can also be for only specific types/government/other vessels.

In localities the bridge operators get to know who is entitled to immediate openings and all others don't get privileges. Simply being "commercial" is not a qualifier.
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Old 04-01-2012, 21:50   #5
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

Our boat is about 100 yards from a Rail Road bridge that lifts a section and sence it is on the Columbia river a feaderal waterway they open for everyone if there is not a train scheduled real soon but we haven't had to waite more than 15 or 20 min. In Seattle there are bridges that because of auto traffic in the mornings and afternoons they don't lift for any boats at certian times.
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Old 06-01-2012, 09:23   #6
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

So, long story short, bridge with a lot of traffic opening on demand for a charter boat, very likely not going to happen!

Actually here the specific one I was looking for. Looks like the Venetian will open as long as I do 12+ hour long trips leaving before 7 and returning after 7. More importantly, just what cruise ship is actually passing through the East span? I'd love to see that one! Strange the the East span and West span have different restrictions.

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Venetian Causeway (West Span) The draw bridge shall open on signal, except from 7 am to 7 pm, Monday thru Friday, except Federal holidays, the bridge need only open on the hour and half hour.

The draw of the East Span of the Venetian Causeway bridge, between Miami and Miami Beach, shall open on signal; except that, from November 1 through April 30 from 7:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Monday through Friday, the draw need not be opened. However, the draws shall open at 7:45 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 5:15 p.m., and 5:45 p.m. if any vessels are waiting to pass. The draw shall open on signal on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and Washington's Birthday. The draw shall open at any time for public vessels of the United States, tugs with tows, regularly scheduled cruise vessels, and vessels in distress.
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:11   #7
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

In my area bridges do not distinguish between commercial or private vessels. During certain hours and times of the year, some bridges require advanced notice to open a bridge. This is so that a bridge tender can get out to open the bridge. Not all bridges are manned 24/7 here.
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:44   #8
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

I couldn't imagine any bridge doing a special opening for a pleasure charter vessel, especially a small sailboat!
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:24   #9
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

"The draw shall open at any time for public vessels of the United States, tugs with tows, regularly scheduled cruise vessels, and vessels in distress."

This exception to regular opening restrictions applies to most bridges. "Public vessels of the U.S." means Navy ships. Uh, yeah, they're going to open on demand for the Navy. "Tugs with tows"? Pretty difficult to stop them and wait for a bridge opening, so they call ahead and get it opened when they arrive. "Vessels in distress" get special treatment with the bridges, just like they do with pretty much ALL of the other rules.

The only one I have any objection to is "regularly scheduled cruise vessels." Their schedule should include getting to the bridge at the time it is scheduled to open!

All other commercial vessels get the same treatment that we pleasure boaters get.
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:46   #10
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

Pretty much the same down in our area as in david Ms area, call ahead after hours and you can arange for an opening, some of the swing bridges on the ICW have morning and afternoon closeing for auto traffic. But most of the time they open for all traffic commercial or pleasure with a VHF call. the fixed bridges are at the Icw hights for clearance as are all the lift bridges on the bayous not to much trouble to get around really. Bob and Connie
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:58   #11
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

In some areas with a high volume of commercial traffic, such as Norfolk's Elizabeth River, the commercial vessels make prior appointments for openings. Sometimes when there are restrictions for pleasure craft, it is possible to inquire if they have a commercial appointment that you can share.
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Old 06-01-2012, 13:08   #12
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Re: Bridge openings for commercial vessels

Where I'm at one has to make a 1 hour advance appointment for general use. Emergences can be faster. The bridge operator is not always there. He has another bridge a couple miles away that sees very little use. They can be called on the phone or VHF 13.

What I hate is i have two bridges to deal with, side by side. One for hiway the other railroad. So, you have to call both to get them sync'd. Sometimes a train will delay the schedule and I have to wait, motoring against the tide.
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Old 06-01-2012, 13:49   #13
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Re: Bridge Openings for Commercial Vessels

As I recall, the Second Narrows railroad bridge at the east end of Vancouver Harbor will open on request provided there is not a train within certain distance of the crossing. Pleasure craft, principally sailboats, have to await the train crossing before the lift is made. Commercial craft, tugs under tow, tankers servicing the refineries past the crossing and bulk carriers that used to load in Port Moody would routinely call the bridge master and sort out the time of passing both in and out of the estuary, marine traffic and train schedules. I used to tow barges regularly in and out of Burrard Inlet and you got used to setting up the passing with the bridge masters who tried to limit the number of raises required by holding commercial operators for a short time to pass together in line in the same direction depending on tides. Opposite passings were strongly discouraged for commercial vessels but not prohibited at the time ( 60's and 70's) because of the tide strength, narrow passage width at lower water. We all used to talk regularly on a dedicated channel to set up the scheule with the each other and the bridge master. Don't ever recall and incident. Capt Phil
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Old 06-01-2012, 14:53   #14
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Re: Bridge Openings for Commercial Vessels

Back when I was pushing barges, I had a bridge operator (Hatchett Creek in Venice, FL) argue with me about opening until I came around the corner with 2700 tons of concrete bridge beams aimed directly for the tender’s house.... Another time when I had an assistance towing business, I had a 50’ sailboat in tow behind a small (34’) tug, following current... The bridge tender said he was going to open. As I was just entering the fender system he blew 5 short and said he was closing for an ambulance... “can you back up?”. Eventually after many dollars to lawyers and time in court, I got $54K from the State of Florida for damages.... my actual cost was closer to $70K with everything included. The State claimed that I was partially responsible for not being able to stop the tow in time... I actually was issued a citation by FMP! (go figure).
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Old 06-01-2012, 17:17   #15
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Re: Bridge Openings for Commercial Vessels

Can you back up!?! Apparently they don't hire the sharpest tacks in the drawer for the job of bridge tender.
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