[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 140 (Tuesday, July 22, 2003)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 43336-43339]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-18610]



Office of the Secretary

49 CFR Part 71

[OST Docket No. OST-2001-10287]
RIN 2105-AD03

Relocation of Standard Time Zone Boundary in the State of North 
Dakota: Morton County

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The Department of Transportation (DOT) is moving all of Morton 
County, North Dakota to the central time zone. Prior to this action, 
the eastern portion of the county was in central time and the western 
portion was in mountain time. This action is taken in response to a 
petition filed by the Board of County Commissioners and based on 
extensive comments made at a public hearing and filed in the docket.

DATES: The effective date of this rule is 2 a.m. MDT Sunday, October 
26, 2003.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joanne Petrie, Office of the Assistant 
General Counsel for Regulation and Enforcement, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Room 10424, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 
20590, (202) 366-9315 or by e-mail at joanne.petrie@ost.dot.gov.

Electronic Access

    You can view and download this document by going to the webpage of 
the Department's Docket Management System (http://dms.dot.gov/). On 
that page, click on ``search.'' On the next page, type in the last five 
digits of the docket number shown on the first page of this document. 
Then click on ``search.'' Using a computer modem, and suitable 
communications software from the Government Printing Office's 
Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 512-1661 also may download 
an electronic copy of this document. Internet users may reach the 
Office of Federal Register's home page at http://www.nara.gov/fedreg 
and the Government Printing Office's database at http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/index.html.



Legal Requirements

    Under the Uniform Time Act of 1918, as amended, (15 U.S.C. 260-
264), either the Secretary of Transportation or Congress may move a 
time zone boundary in the United States. The current boundaries are set 
forth in regulations that are found in 49 CFR part 71.
    DOT has issued guidance to communities concerning how to begin a 
rulemaking proceeding to change a time zone boundary. This guidance, 
which is non-binding, recommends that the highest governmental body 
representing the area affirmatively ask DOT to make the change. 
Depending on the area in question, the highest governmental body may be 
the town or county representatives, or the Governor or State 
legislature. We presume that this group represents the views of the 
community. We do not require that the community conduct a vote or 
referendum on this

[[Page 43337]]

issue. We solicit the views of all interested parties, not just 
individuals and businesses in the affected area.
    15 U.S.C. 261 states that the standard for making this decision is 
``regard for the convenience of commerce and the existing junction 
points and division points of common carriers engaged in interstate or 
foreign commerce.'' In order to determine what decision would support 
``the convenience of commerce,'' the Department looks at a wide variety 
of factors about how the potential change would affect the community 
and surrounding areas.
    Time zone boundaries were originally set up in the late 1800s. 
Although they were based on geographic considerations (i.e., the sun 
should be more or less overhead at noon), the exact boundary was set 
largely based on the convenience of commerce and the needs of the 
railroads. In addition, geographic boundaries, such as mountains and 
rivers, also play a role. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect 
variation in the time zone boundary alignment. In North Dakota, the 
western time zone boundary between central and mountain time extends to 
the North Dakota-Montana border in the north of the State near 
Williston and has largely followed natural boundaries such as Lake 
Sakakawea and the Missouri River. In recent years, however, there have 
been a number of requests by counties west of the river to change to 
central time. DOT changed Oliver County in 1992, and is currently 
considering requests from Sioux and Mercer Counties to move their time 
zone boundaries.
    Currently, Morton County is one of the few counties in the United 
States split by a time zone boundary. The eastern portion of the 
county, which includes the county seat and largest city in the county 
(Mandan) is on central time. The western portion of the county, which 
is more rural, is on mountain time. The counties bordering Morton 
County are split between central and mountain time observance. Oliver 
County, Burleigh County (which includes the major city in the area, 
Bismarck), Emmons County, portions of Sioux County, and the Standing 
Rock Sioux Reservation all observe central time. Grant County, 
Hettinger County, Stark County, and Mercer County observe mountain 

History of This Proceeding

    In a petition dated April 9, 2001, the Chairman of the Board of 
County Commissioners for Morton County asked the Department of 
Transportation to move the western portion of Morton County, North 
Dakota, from the mountain time zone to the central time zone. In 
support of the petition, the Chairman noted the following factors:

    ``The City of Mandan is the largest city in Morton County (with 
over 66% of the county's population according to the 2000 Census) 
and operates on Central Time. Virtually all the supplies for the 
balance of the county come out of Mandan or Bismarck, North Dakota, 
which is in the central time zone.
    Virtually all county residents travel to Mandan or Bismarck for 
medical services, shopping, entertainment, or to do business with 
county or state government.
    Commercial airline services are based in Bismarck, North Dakota 
and require county residents to travel there to catch flights to 
other parts of the United States.
    Most all television and radio stations broadcast from Mandan or 
Bismarck and the only daily newspaper in the area is published in 
Bismarck, North Dakota which is just across the Missouri River from 
    The County Commissioners put the time issue to a straw vote in 
the June 13, 2000 Primary Election. Only the five (5) precincts that 
operated on mountain time voted on the time issue, Yes 625, No 572. 
There are twelve precincts in the county on central time. The 
commission held a meeting on the time issue in July 2000 and only 
one (1) person showed up to request the balance of the county in 
Mountain Time Zone. March 6, 2001 the commission held another 
meeting on the time issue based on the people wanting the commission 
to request the time change for the balance of the county. 46 persons 
attended the meeting with 28 expressing their opinion favoring to 
change the entire county to the Central Time Zone and 18 expressing 
their opinion that they wished to keep the balance of the county in 
the Mountain Time Zone. Most all the people that attended the 
meeting were from the precincts voting in the June 13, 2000 Primary 
    Geographically, Morton County is well suited to be in the 
Central Time Zone. Oliver County directly north of us operates in 
Central Time Zone and Mercer County north and west of us is 
considering changing to Central Time zone.''

    On August 3, 2001, the Department published a notice of proposed 
rulemaking (66 FR 40666) announcing the proposed change and inviting 
public comment. A DOT representative conducted a hearing in New Salem, 
ND, on August 28, 2001. The hearing was attended by over 100 people and 
lasted several hours. The DOT representative tried to gauge the 
position of the attendees by an informal show of hands during the 
hearing. By show of hands, sixty were in favor of central time and 
fifty-four people were in favor of mountain time.
    The NPRM also invited the public to submit written comments to the 
docket. There were over seventy submissions to the docket. The 
submissions included detailed letters, one form letter submitted by 
twelve people, and short messages expressing a preference for either 
the central or mountain time zone. We appreciate the time and effort of 
the people who expressed their opinion at the public meeting and 
through written comments, and who provided the factual basis upon which 
to make a decision.


    Those in favor of mountain time noted that, based on the sun, 
Morton County is appropriately in the mountain time zone. These 
commenters observed that if the change were made, there would be very 
late sunrises and sunsets, and that the sun would not be overhead at 
noon. Several ranchers and farmers stated their belief that mountain 
time made it easier to do their chores and outdoor activities.
    Others stated that they were not confused or inconvenienced by the 
present observance and had never missed an appointment in their 
impressively long lives. Some said, ``if it ain't broke, don't fix 
it.'' A number of people that live in the far west and south of the 
county noted that they were more tied to neighboring counties on 
mountain time than areas to the east. Others noted that a change would 
simply shift the inconvenience of living on a time zone boundary to 
their neighbors to the west.
    A number of parents and grandparents noted the danger of sending 
children to school on icy or snowy, rural schools before sunrise, and 
before adequate plowing or road treatment. A few anticipated that later 
sunsets would interfere with serving dinner and getting young children 
to sleep.
    A number of people expected adverse impacts on education and 
schools, if the change were made. For example, several discussed local 
schools' reliance on interactive instructional television and voiced 
their concern that a change would adversely impact class scheduling. 
Others discussed school sports events and the potential difficulties in 
scheduling both students and parents.
    Several commenters noted that they use the current time boundary to 
their advantage. For example, one can schedule early medical 
appointments in Bismarck and get home before school starts. Others are 
able to participate in more community or school activities because they 
work in central time and get home an hour earlier than they would if 
they also lived in central time. A number of commenters expressed a 
strong personal preference for mountain

[[Page 43338]]

time and said it just worked better for them.
    Those in favor of central time had equally articulate, and 
passionate, reasons for their position. In general, all of these 
commenters stressed their reliance on services and activities located 
in Bismarck and Mandan. They noted the county seat is in Mandan and 
that one needed to go to the central time zone for most county, state, 
and court services. Many of these commenters noted that they generally 
go to the central time zone for shops, farm supplies and equipment, 
medical services (including the major hospital and various clinics), 
and entertainment. The major daily newspaper and most radio and 
television stations come from Bismarck. The major airport in the area 
is in Bismarck.
    A number of commenters focused on how the current time observance 
impacts business. These commenters focused on problems caused by 
miscommunication, lost time because of different office and lunch hours 
across time zones, and the need to continually clarify whether 
appointments are on central or mountain time. One commenter noted that 
the de facto standard for business in the county is central time. 
Several ranchers and farmers stated that central time would be more 
convenient and efficient for their work.
    Many commenters noted their personal preference for central time 
and gave detailed explanations about how a change would make their 
lives easier and less confusing. Some of these commenters live far west 
or south in the county, and include ranchers and farmers. Several 
commenters noted that, for all practical purposes, most people in 
Morton County already live their lives on central time.
    There were several comments that central time would benefit 
students and schools. One commenter noted that most interactive 
television programming comes from Bismarck. Others noted that most 
higher education institutions are in the central zone. One commenter 
noted that the impact on sport scheduling could be beneficial if a 
change were made.

The Decision

    We find that it would suit the ``convenience of commerce'' to move 
the western portion of Morton County from the mountain to the central 
time zone. Based on the facts presented, the county is very reliant on 
areas in the central time zone, especially Bismarck and Mandan to 
provide a majority of goods and services. Having the entire county in 
one time zone would reduce confusion and would make the boundary more 

Other Issues

    A number of commenters suggested that the time zone boundary be 
moved to the Montana border in order to order to end confusion over 
time observance in the State. Several noted that the time zone boundary 
between central and mountain time already extends to the Montana-North 
Dakota border in the northern part of the State and noted that it works 
well. This broader request is outside the scope of this present 
proceeding. In order to consider a change to additional counties, we 
would need an official request by the County Commissioners of the 
affected counties, the Governor, or the North Dakota legislature.
    A few commenters also asked us to end daylight saving time 
observance in the State. That issue is also outside the scope of this 
rulemaking. Under the Uniform Time Act, a State is free to observe, or 
not observe, daylight saving time. If it chooses to observe, it must 
begin and end its observance on the federally-mandated dates. 
Commenters that wish to be exempted from daylight saving time should 
explore this option with their state representatives.

Regulatory Analysis and Notices

    This rule is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under section 
3(f) of Executive Order 12866 and has not been reviewed by the Office 
of Management and Budget. It is not ``significant'' under the 
regulatory policies and procedures of the Department of Transportation 
(DOT) (44 FR 11040, February 26, 1979.) We expect the economic impact 
of this rule to be so minimal that a full regulatory analysis is 
unnecessary. The rule primarily affects the convenience of individuals 
in scheduling activities. By itself, it imposes no direct costs. Its 
impact is localized in nature.

Small Entities

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we 
considered whether this rule would have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities. The term ``small entities'' 
comprises small business, not-for-profit organizations that are 
independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, 
and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. 
This rule primarily affects individuals and their scheduling of 
activities. Although it will affect some small businesses, not-for-
profits, and perhaps, several small governmental jurisdictions, it will 
not be a substantial number. In addition, the change should have 
little, if any, economic impact. I, therefore, certify under 5 U.S.C. 
605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.

Collection of Information

    This rule calls for no new collection of information under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).


    We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 12612 and have 
determined that this rule does not have sufficient implications for 
federalism to warrant consultation with State and local officials or 
the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. The final 
rule has no substantial effects on the States, or on the current 
Federal-State relationship, or on the current distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various local officials.

Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) and 
Executive Order 12875, enhancing the Intergovernmental Partnership, (58 
FR 58093; October 28, 1993) govern the issuance of Federal regulations 
that may result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal 
governments or the private sector of $100 million or more in any one 
year (adjusted annually for inflation). This rule does not impose such 
a mandate.

Taking of Private Property

    This rule does not effect a taking of private property or otherwise 
have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental 
Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property 

Civil Justice Reform

    This rule meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, 
eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

Protection of Children

    We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13045, Protection 
of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. This rule 
is not an economically significant rule and does not concern an 
environmental risk to health or risk to safety that may 
disproportionately affect children.

[[Page 43339]]


    This rule is not a major Federal action significantly affecting the 
quality of the human environment under the National Environmental 
Policy Act and, therefore, an environmental impact statement is not 

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 71

    Time zones.

For the reasons discussed above, the Office of the Secretary amends 
Title 49 part 71 to read as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 71 continues to read:

    Authority: Secs. 1-4, 40 Stat. 450, as amended; sec 1, 41 Stat. 
1446, as amended; secs. 2-7, 80 Stat. 107, as amended; 100 Stat. 
764; Act of Mar. 19, 1918, as amended by the Uniform Time Act of 
1966 and Pub. L. 97-449, 15 U.S.C. 260-267; Pub. L. 99-359; Pub. L. 
106-564, 15 U.S.C. 263, 114 Stat. 2811; 49 CFR 159(a), unless 
otherwise noted.

2. Paragraph (a) of Sec.  71.5, Boundary line between central and 
mountain zones, is revised to read as follows:

Sec.  71.5  Boundary line between eastern and central zones.

    (a) Montana-North Dakota. Beginning at the junction of the Montana-
North Dakota boundary with the boundary of the United States and Canada 
southerly along the Montana-North Dakota boundary to the Missouri 
River; thence southerly and easterly along the middle of that river to 
the midpoint of the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers; 
thence southerly and easterly along the middle of the Yellowstone River 
to the north boundary of T. 150 N., R. 104 W.; thence east to the 
northwest corner of T. 150 N., R. 102 W.; thence south to the southwest 
corner of T. 149 N., R. 102 W.; thence east to the northwest corner of 
T. 148 N., R. 102 W.; thence south to the northwest corner of 147 N., 
R. 102 W.; thence east to the southwest corner of T. 148 N., R. 101 W., 
thence south to the middle of the Little Missouri; thence easterly and 
northerly along the middle of that river to the midpoint of its 
confluence with the Missouri River; thence southerly and easterly along 
the middle of the Missouri River to the midpoint of its confluence with 
the northern land boundary of Oliver County; thence, west along the 
northern county line to the northwest boundary; thence south along the 
western county line to the southwest boundary; thence west along the 
northern county boundary of Morton County; thence south along the 
western county line and then east and south along the southern county 
boundary to the intersection with the middle of the Missouri River; 
thence south and east along the middle of the Missouri River to the 
northern boundary of T. 130 N., R. 80 W.; thence west to the northwest 
corner of T. 130 N., R. 80 W.; thence south to the North Dakota-South 
Dakota boundary; thence easterly along that boundary to the middle of 
the Missouri River.
* * * * *

    Issued in Washington, DC on July 11, 2003.
Norman Y. Mineta,
[FR Doc. 03-18610 Filed 7-21-03; 8:45 am]