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Interpretation Response #98-0327 ([General Electric Company] [Dr. Jim Merrifield])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: General Electric Company

Individual Name: Dr. Jim Merrifield

Location State: NY Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

DEC 30, 1998


Dr. Jim Merrifield                     Ref. No. 98-0327
Senior Regulatory Specialist
General Electric Company
260 Hudson River Road
Waterford, NY 12188

Dear Dr. Merrifield:

This is in response to your letter of November 4, 1998, regarding the applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). Specifically, you ask whether the HMR apply to the following traffic situation which occurs three to five times each day:

A guard-controlled entrance gate for a waste treatment facility is located directly across a public road from an operator-controlled entrance gate for the main site. A traffic light is suspended above this crossover. Whenever facility traffic wishes to travel between the two
sites, either the guard or the vehicle driver will activate the traffic light/gate controller. The traffic light sequences through yellow to red. The gates begin opening after the light is red. The traffic light is red for 4-6 seconds before the vehicle can pass through the gate. The red traffic light is affixed with a flashing strobe that is visible from several hundred feet. North-south traffic along the public road stops in both directions at the light prior to and during any facility vehicle crossing. After the vehicle has cleared the road, either the guard or the vehicle operator closes
the gate and returns the light to green for traffic to resume.

As specified in § 171.1, the HMR govern the safe transportation of hazardous material in intrastate, interstate, and foreign commerce. "In commerce" excludes from regulation the transportation of hazardous material on a private road. The use of a traffic light in these circumstances to deny public access to a public highway makes the highway private, and therefore, not subject to the HMR.

I hope this answers your inquiry. If we can be of further assistance, please contact us.



Delmer F. Billings
Chief, Standards Development
Office of Hazardous Materials Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.1 Applicability of Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to persons and functions