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BRIDGE ACT OF 1906 & THE TRUMAN-HOBBS ACT

These federal maritime regulations control the building of bridges across navigable waterways such as the Biloxi Bay. The source of the information below was from a COMPILATION OF MARITIME LAWS As Amended Through June 30, 2000, that was provided to the 106th Congress by the U.S. Department of Transportation. To see the full report in .pdf format, click here.

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ACT OF MARCH 23, 1906 (Chapter 1130; 34 Stat. 84) (Popularly known as the ‘‘Bridge Act of 1906’’)

An Act To regulate the construction of bridges over navigable waters. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, 33 U.S.C. 491¿ That when, hereafter, authority is granted by Congress to any persons to construct and maintain a bridge across or over any of the navigable waters of the United States, such bridge shall not be built or commenced until the plans and specifications for its construction, together with such drawings of the proposed construction and such map of the proposed location as may be required for a full understanding of the subject, have been submitted to the Secretary of Transportation for the Secretary’s approval, nor until the Secretary shall have approved such plans and specifications and the location of such bridge and accessory works; and when the plans for any bridge to be constructed under the provisions of this Act have been approved by the Secretary it shall not be lawful to deviate from such plans, either before or after completion of the structure, unless the modification of such plans has previously been submitted to and received the approval of the Secretary. This section shall not apply to any bridge 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.

SEC. 2. 33 U.S.C. 492¿ That any bridge built in accordance with the provisions of this Act shall be a lawful structure and shall be recognized and known as a post route, upon which no higher charge shall be made for the transmission over the same of the mails, the troops, and the munitions of war of the United States than the rate per mile paid for the transportation over any railroad, street railway, or public highway leading to said bridge; and the United States shall have the right to construct, maintain, and repair, without any charge therefore, telegraph and telephone lines across and upon said bridge and its approaches; and equal privileges in the use of said bridge and its approaches shall be granted to all telegraph and telephone companies. SEC. 3. 33 U.S.C. 493¿ That all railroad companies desiring the use of any railroad bridge built in accordance with the provisions of this Act shall be entitled to equal rights and privileges relative to the passage of railway trains or cars over the same and over the approaches thereto upon payment of a reasonable compensation for such use; and in case of any disagreement between  

Sec. 4 BRIDGE ACT OF 1906 the parties in regard to the terms of such use or the sums to be paid all matters at issue shall be determined by the Secretary of Transportation upon hearing the allegations and proofs submitted to him. SEC. 4. 33 U.S.C. 494¿

That no bridge erected or maintained under the provisions of this Act shall at any time unreasonably obstruct the free navigation of the waters over which it is constructed, and if any bridge erected in accordance with the provisions of this Act shall, in the opinion of the Secretary of Transportation, at any time unreasonably obstruct such navigation, either on account of insufficient height, width of span, or otherwise, or if there be difficulty in passing the draw opening or the drawspan of such bridge by rafts, steamboats, or other water craft, it shall be the duty of the Secretary of Transportation, after giving the parties interested reasonable opportunity to be heard, to notify the persons owning or controlling such bridge to so alter the same as to render navigation through or under it reasonably free, easy, and unobstructed, stating in such notice the changes required to be made, and prescribing in each case a reasonable time in which to make such changes, and if at the end of the time so specified the changes so required have not been made, the persons owning or controlling such bridge shall be deemed guilty of a violation of this Act; and all such alterations shall be made and all such obstructions shall be removed at the expense of the persons owning or operating said bridge. The persons owning or operating any such bridge shall maintain, at their own expense, such lights and other signals thereon as the Secretary of Commerce and Labor shall prescribe.

 If the bridge shall be constructed with a draw, then the draw shall be opened promptly by the persons owning or operating such bridge upon reasonable signal for the passage of boats and other water craft. SEC. 5. 33 U.S.C. 495¿

(a) That any persons who shall willfully fail or refuse to comply with the lawful order of the Secretary of Transportation or the Chief of Engineers, made in accordance with the provisions of this Act, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished in any court of competent jurisdiction by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and every month such persons shall remain in default shall be deemed a new offense and subject such persons to additional penalties therefore; and in addition to the penalties above described the Secretary of Transportation and the Chief of Engineers may, upon refusal of the persons owning or controlling any such bridge and accessory works to comply with any lawful order issued by the Secretary of Transportation or Chief of Engineers in regard thereto, cause the removal of such bridge and accessory works at the expense of the persons owning or controlling such bridge, and suit for such expense may be brought in the name of the United States against such persons, and recovery had for such expense in any court of competent jurisdiction; and the removal of any structures erected or maintained in violation of the provisions of this Act or the order or direction of the Secretary of Transportation or Chief of Engineers made in pursuance thereof may be enforced by injunction, mandamus, or other summary process, upon application to the circuit court in the district in which such structure may, in

189 Sec. 8 BRIDGE ACT OF 1906 whole or in part, exist, and proper proceedings to this end may be instituted under the direction of the Attorney-General of the United States at the request of the Secretary of Transportation; and in case of any litigation arising from any obstruction or alleged obstruction to navigation created by the construction of any bridge under this Act, the cause or question arising may be tried before the circuit court of the United States in any district which any portion of said obstruction or bridge touches.

(b) Whoever violates any provision of this Act, or any order issued under this Act, shall be liable to a civil penalty of not more than $1,000. Each day a violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense. No penalty may be assessed under this subsection until the person charged is given notice and an opportunity for a hearing on the charge. The Secretary of Transportation may assess and collect any civil penalty incurred under this subsection and, in his discretion, may remit, mitigate, or compromise any penalty until the matter is referred to the Attorney General. If a person against whom a civil penalty is assessed under this subsection fails to pay that penalty, an action may be commenced in the district court of the United States for any district in which the violation occurs for such penalty. SEC. 6. 33 U.S.C. 496¿ That whenever Congress shall hereafter by law authorize the construction of any bridge over or across any of the navigable waters of the United States, and no time for the commencement and completion of such bridge is named in said Act, the authority thereby granted shall cease and be null and void unless the actual construction of the bridge authorized in such Act be commenced within one year and completed within three years from the date of the passage of such Act. SEC. 7. 33 U.S.C. 497¿

That the word ‘‘persons’’ as used in this Act shall be construed to import both the singular and the plural, as the case demands, and shall include municipalities, quasi municipal corporations, corporations, companies, and associations. SEC. 8. 33 U.S.C. 498¿ That the right to alter, amend, or repeal this Act is hereby expressly reserved as to any and all bridges which may be built in accordance with the provisions of this Act, and the United States shall incur no liability for the alteration, amendment, or repeal thereof to the owner or owners or any other persons interested in any bridge which shall have been constructed in accordance with its provisions.

   191 ACT OF JUNE 21, 1940 (POPULARLY KNOWN AS THE ‘‘TRUMAN-HOBBS ACT’’)   193 ACT OF JUNE 21, 1940 (Chapter 409, 76 Stat. 497) (Popularly known as the ‘‘Truman-Hobbs Act’’)

 AN ACT To provide for the alteration of certain bridges over navigable waters of the United States, for the apportionment of the cost of such alterations between the United States and the owners of such bridges, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, DEFINITIONS SECTION 1. 33 U.S.C. 511¿

When used in this Act, unless the context indicates otherwise— The term ‘‘alteration’’ includes changes of any kind, reconstruction, or removal in whole or in part. The term ‘‘bridge’’ means a lawful bridge over navigable waters of the United States, including approaches, fenders, and appurtenances thereto, which is used and operated for the purpose of carrying railroad traffic, or both railroad and highway traffic, or if a State, county, municipality, or other political subdivision is the owner or joint owner thereof, which is used and operated for the purpose of carrying highway traffic.

The term ‘‘bridge owner’’ means any State, county, municipality, or other political subdivision, or any corporation, association, partnership, or individual owning, or jointly owning, any bridge, and, when any bridge shall be in the possession or under the control of any trustee, receiver, trustee in a case under title 11 of the United States Code, or lessee, such term shall include both the owner of the legal title and the person or the entity in possession or control of such bridge.

The term ‘‘Secretary’’ means the Secretary of Transportation. The term ‘‘United States’’, when used in a geographical sense, includes the Territories and possessions of the United States. OBSTRUCTION OF NAVIGATION SEC. 2. 33 U.S.C. 512¿

No bridge shall at any time unreasonably obstruct the free navigation of any navigable waters of the United States. NOTICE, HEARINGS, AND FINDINGS SEC. 3. 33 U.S.C. 513¿ Whenever any bridge shall, in the opinion of the Secretary, at any time unreasonably obstruct such navigation, it shall be the duty of the Secretary, after notice to interested parties, to hold a hearing at which the bridge owner, those interested in water navigation thereunder or therethrough, those interested in either railroad or highway traffic thereover, and any 194 Sec. 4 TRUMAN-HOBBS ACT other party or parties in interest shall have full opportunity to offer evidence and be heard as to whether any alteration of such bridge is needed, and if so what alterations are needed, having due regard to the necessity of free and unobstructed water navigation and to the necessities of the rail or highway traffic.

If, upon such hearing, the Secretary determines that any alterations of such bridge are necessary in order to render navigation through or under it reasonably free, easy, and unobstructed, having due regard also for the necessities of rail or highway traffic thereover, he shall so find and shall issue and cause to be served upon interested parties an order requiring such alterations of such bridge as he finds to be reasonably necessary for the purposes of navigation.  

SUBMISSION AND APPROVAL OF GENERAL PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS SEC. 4. 33 U.S.C. 514¿ After the service of an order under this Act, it shall be the duty of the bridge owner to prepare and submit to the Secretary of Transportation, within a reasonable time as prescribed by the Secretary, general plans and specifications to provide for the alteration of such bridge in accordance with such order, and for such additional alteration of such bridge as the bridge owner may desire to meet the necessities of railroad or highway traffic, or both.

The Secretary may approve or reject such general plans and specifications, in whole or in part, and may require the submission of new or additional plans and specifications, but when the Secretary shall have approved general plans and specifications, they shall be final and binding upon all parties unless changes therein be afterward approved by the Secretary and the bridge owner.  

CONTRACTS FOR PROJECT; GUARANTY OF COST SEC. 5. 33 U.S.C. 515¿ After approval of such general plans and specifications by the Secretary, and after notification of such approval, the bridge owner shall, in such manner and within such times as the Secretary may prescribe, take bids for the alteration of such bridge in accordance with such general plans and specifications. All bids, including any bid for all or part of the project submitted by the bridge owner, shall be submitted to the Secretary, together with a recommendation by the bridge owner as to the most competent bid or bids, and at the same time the bridge owner shall submit to the Secretary a written guaranty that the total cost of the project, including the cost of such work as is to be performed by the bridge owner and not included in the work to be performed by contract, shall not exceed the sum stated in said guaranty.

The Secretary may direct the bridge owner to reject all bids and to take new bids, or may authorize the bridge owner to proceed with the project, by contract, or partly by contract and partly by the bridge owner, or wholly by the bridge owner.

Upon such authorization and fixing of the proportionate shares of the cost as provided in section 6, the bridge owner shall, within a reasonable time to be prescribed by the Secretary, proceed with the work of alteration; and the cost thereof shall be borne by the United States and by the bridge owner, as hereinafter provided: Provided, That where funds have been appropriated for part only of a project, the bridge owner may 195 Sec. 6 TRUMAN-HOBBS ACT 1 So in law. Section 1(b) of P.L. 85–640 (72 Stat. 595) added after the word ‘‘provided’’ the following: ‘‘: Provided, That where funds have been appropriated for part only of a project, the bridge owner may take bids for part only of the work. In the event the bridge owner proceeds with the alteration through the taking of successive partial bids, the bridge owner shall, if required by the Secretary, submit a revised guaranty of cost after bids are accepted for successive parts of the work.’’.

 The amendment did not strike the period after the word ‘‘provided’’. 2 So in law. Section 1(c) of P.L. 85–640 (72 Stat. 595) added after the word ‘‘navigation’’ the following: ‘‘: And provided further, That where the bridge owner proceeds with the alteration on a successive partial bid basis the Secretary is authorized to issue an order of apportionment of cost for the entire alteration based on the accepted bid for the first part of the alteration and an estimate of cost for the remainder of the work. The Secretary is authorized to revise the order of apportionment of cost, to the extent he deems reasonable and proper, to meet any changed conditions.’’. The amendment did not strike the period after the word ‘‘navigation’’. take bids for part only of the work. In the event the bridge owner proceeds with the alteration through the taking of successive partial bids, the bridge owner shall, if required by the Secretary, submit a revised guaranty of cost after bids are accepted for successive parts of the work..  

1 APPORTIONMENT OF COST SEC. 6. 33 U.S.C. 516¿ At the time the Secretary shall authorize the bridge owner to proceed with the project, as provided in section 5, and after an opportunity to the bridge owner to be heard thereon, the Secretary shall determine and issue an order specifying the proportionate shares of the total cost of the project to be borne by the United States and by the bridge owner. Such apportionment shall be made on the following basis:

The bridge owner shall bear such part of the cost as is attributable to the direct and special benefits which will accrue to the bridge owner as a result of the alteration, including the expectable savings in repair or maintenance costs; and that part of the cost attributable to the requirements of traffic by railroad or highway, or both, including any expenditure for increased carrying capacity of the bridge, and including such proportion of the actual capital cost of the old bridge or of such part of the old bridge as may be altered or changed or rebuilt, as the used service life of the whole or a part, as the case may be, bears to the total estimated service life of the whole or such part: Provided further, That in the event the alteration or relocation of any bridge may be desirable for the reason that the bridge unreasonably obstructs navigation, but also for some other reason, the Secretary may require equitable contribution from any interested person, firm, association, corporation, municipality, county, or State desiring such alteration or relocation for such other reason, as a condition precedent to the making of an order for such alteration or relocation.

The United States shall bear the balance of the cost, including that part attributable to the necessities of navigation: And provided further, That where the bridge owner proceeds with the alteration on a successive partial bid basis the Secretary is authorized to issue an order of apportionment of cost for the entire alteration based on the accepted bid for the first part of the alteration and an estimate of cost for the remainder of the work. The Secretary is authorized to revise the order of apportionment of cost, to the extent he deems reasonable and proper, to meet any changed conditions.  

2196 Sec. 6 TRUMAN-HOBBS ACT PAYMENT OF SHARE OF THE UNITED STATES SEC. 7. 33 U.S.C. 517¿ Following service of the order requiring alteration of the bridge, the Secretary of Transportation may make partial payments as the work progresses to the extent that funds have been appropriated. The total payments out of Federal funds shall not exceed the proportionate share of the United States of the total cost of the project paid or incurred by the bridge owner, and, if such total cost exceeds the cost guaranteed by the bridge owner, shall not exceed the proportionate share of the United States of such guaranteed cost, except that if the cost of the work exceeds the guaranteed cost by reason of emergencies, conditions beyond the control of the owner, or unforeseen or undetermined conditions, the Secretary of Transportation may, after full review of all the circumstances, provide for additional payments by the United States to help defray such excess cost to the extent he deems to be reasonable and proper, and shall certify such additional payments to the Secretary of the Treasury for payment.

All payments to any bridge owner herein provided for shall be made by the Secretary of the Treasury through the Division of Disbursement upon certifications of the Secretary of Transportation.  

APPROPRIATION AUTHORIZED SEC. 8. 33 U.S.C. 518¿ There are hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.   FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH ORDERS; PENALTIES; REMOVAL OF BRIDGE SEC. 9. 33 U.S.C. 519¿

Any bridge owner who shall willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order of the Secretary, made in accordance with the provisions of this Act, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished in any court of competent jurisdiction by a fine not exceeding $5,000, and every month such bridge owner shall remain in default shall be deemed a new offense and subject such bridge owner to additional penalties therefore. In addition to the penalties above prescribed the Secretary may, upon the failure or refusal of any bridge owner to comply with any lawful order issued by the Secretary in regard thereto, cause the removal of any such bridge and accessory works at the expense of the bridge owner; and suit for such expense may be brought in the name of the United States against such bridge owner and recovery had for such expense in any court of competent jurisdiction.

The removal of any bridge erected or maintained in violation of the provisions of this Act or the order or direction of the Secretary made in pursuance thereof, and compliance with any order of the Secretary made with respect to any bridge in accordance with the provisions of this Act, may be enforced by injunction, mandamus, or other summary process upon application to the district court of any district in which such bridge may, in whole or in part, exist, and proper proceedings to this end may be instituted under the direction of the Attorney General of the United States at the request of the Secretary.  

197 Sec. 12 TRUMAN-HOBBS ACT REVIEW OF FINDINGS AND ORDERS SEC. 10. 33 U.S.C. 520¿ Any order made or issued under section 6 of this Act may be reviewed by the circuit court of appeals for any judicial circuit in which the bridge in question is wholly or partly located, if a petition for such review is filed within three months after the date such order is issued. The judgment of any such court shall be final except that it shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court of the United States upon certification or certiorari, in the manner provided in sections 239 and 240 of the Judicial Code, as amended. The review by such Court shall be limited to questions of law, and the findings of fact by the Secretary, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. Upon such review, such Court shall have power to affirm or, if the order is not in accordance with law, to modify or to reverse the order, with or, without remanding the case for a rehearing as justice may require. Proceedings under this section shall not operate as a stay of any order of the Secretary issued under provisions of this Act other than section 6, or relieve any bridge owner of any liability or penalty under such provisions.  

REGULATIONS AND ORDERS SEC. 11. 33 U.S.C. 521¿ The Secretary is authorized to prescribe such rules and regulations, and to make and issue such orders, as may be necessary or appropriate for carrying out the provisions of this Act. EXISTING PROVISIONS OF LAW SEC. 12. 33 U.S.C. 522¿ (a) The first sentence of section 4 of the Act entitled ‘‘An Act to regulate the construction of bridges over navigable waters’’, approved March 23, 1906 (U. S. C., 1934 edition, title 33, sec. 494), and section 18 of the Act entitled ‘‘An Act making appropriations for the construction, repair, and preservation of certain public works on rivers and harbors, and for other purposes’’, approved March 3, 1899 (U. S. C., 1934 edition, title 33, sec.502), shall be inapplicable with respect to any bridge to which the provisions of this Act are applicable, except to the extent provided in this section. (b) Any bridge, the construction, reconstruction, or alteration of which was required by an order of the Secretary issued prior to July 1, 1939, and was not completed on such date, and in the case of which no penalties have accrued at the time of the enactment of this Act, shall be constructed, reconstructed, or altered as required by such order, and not in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

In the case of any such bridge, however, the Secretary shall apportion the cost of the project between the bridge owner and the United States, and payment of the share of the United States shall be made, in the same manner as if the provisions of this Act applied to such construction, reconstruction, or alteration, subject to the following limitations: (1) In case such construction, reconstruction, or alteration has not begun on or before April 1, 1940, such apportionment of cost shall be made only if (A) the construction, reconstruction, or alteration is carried out in accordance with plans and specifications, 198 Sec. 13 TRUMAN-HOBBS ACT and pursuant to bids, approved by the Secretary, and (B) the bridge owner has submitted to the Secretary a written guaranty of cost as provided for in section 5. (2) The Secretary’s determination as to such apportionment, and as to such plans and specifications and bids, shall be final. (3) Such apportionment shall not be made if such construction, reconstruction, or alteration is not completed within the time fixed in such order of the Secretary or within such additional time as the Secretary, for good cause shown, may allow. (c) Any bridge (except a bridge to which subsection (b) applies) the construction, reconstruction, or alteration of which was required by an order of the Secretary issued prior to July 1, 1939, and was not begun before such date, shall be subject to the provisions of this Act as though such order had not been issued, and compliance with the provisions of this Act and with such orders as may be issued thereunder shall be considered to constitute compliance with such order issued prior to July 1, 1939, and with the provisions of law under which it was issued.  

RELOCATION OF BRIDGES SEC. 13. 33 U.S.C. 523¿ If the owner of any bridge and the Secretary shall agree that in order to remove an obstruction to navigation, or for any other purpose, a relocation of such bridge or the construction of a new bridge upon a new location would be preferable to an alteration of the existing bridge, such relocation or new construction may be carried out at such new site and upon such terms as may be acceptable to the bridge owner and the Secretary, and the cost of such relocation or new construction, including also any expense of changes in and additions to rights-of-way, stations, tracks, spurs, sidings, switches, signals, and other railroad facilities and property, and relocation of shippers required for railroad connection with the bridge at the new site, shall be apportioned as between the bridge owner and the United States in the manner which is provided for in section 6 hereof in the case of an alteration and the share of the United States paid from the appropriation authorized in section 8 hereof: Provided, That nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring the United States to pay any part of the expense of building any bridge across a navigable stream which the Secretary of Transportation shall not find to be, in fact, a relocation of an existing bridge.

 

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