OTR's Promise of No Highway Closures Shown Impossible

Scroll down for explanations of:

  • Equipment
  • Traffic and Safety Effect
  • The 400' Myth
  • Why This Matters

OTR Crane and outriggers block Hwy 50

Manitowoc 500Es Series Boom Truck with Mobile Crane and required outriggers spanning 22'. Set on OTR site at MM231, Tunnels (Rincon). This shoulder is extra wide on the curve, but the remainder of this stretch has 2' shoulders, as does most other 2-lane panel sites. NOTE: This depiction is for illustrative purposes only; Details of equipment features and assembly will vary slightly. However, the required 22' working width on a 24' road will not change.

Compare OTR's plan with manufacturer's requirements for safe operation of this crane rig.


One of OTR's equipment selections for the Installation's 2 year construction phase is the Manitowoc 500Es mobile crane rig. Their plan states: "Counterweight will be used in place of outrigger."

Two recent phone conversations with the manufacturer's Technical Support Services revealed:
  • 1. This equipment cannot be operated without the outriggers.
  • 2. This equipment cannot be operated using only counterweights, no matter how heavy those weights are.
  • 3. All the outriggers must be fully deployed and the tires lifted off the pavement so that the entire unit is fully supported to 85% stability on the outriggers.
  • 4. Fully deployed outriggers must be set on a solid, level surface.
Therefore, OTR Corporation plans to use construction equipment performing in a way which is impossible within safety and industry practice guidelines.

The required outriggers span 22 feet. Highway lanes total 24 feet.
This fact alone also renders OTR's 1-lane closure promise impossible.

The presence of this OTR construction equipment will obviously have a profound impact on the traffic through Bighorn Sheep Canyon, rendering all EIS travel-related information and projections invalid.

Public Safety Hazard

Paved and unpaved shoulders will be part of the travel lane for moving traffic. In fact, OTR's proposal depends on this ill-conceived strategy. Road shoulders in the canyon are uneven, irregular width, eroded from water runoff, and often cluttered with rock fall, snow and ice, tree limbs and other miscellaneous natural debris, presenting dangerous or impossible passage for travelers.

  • Road shoulders are not designed for continuous traffic. They would be subject to break-down from heavier and continuous use, creating danger to drivers and necessitating more road maintenance;
  • Rocks or other fallen debris on road are impediments to safe driving;
  • Presents potential damage to vehicles;
  • Danger to drivers/passengers (injury, death - as occurred 2011 on U.S. Hwy 40);
  • Traffic management in Installation/Removal work areas when clearing rockfall, snowfall or other impediments in the south lane and/or shoulder.

As to the last point, FEIS includes 'rockfall' when listing "Natural disturbances to the Project Area." [FEIS at, p.204] However, there is not a single mention in the EIS, nor in OTR Corp's application, of the risk to drivers and their passengers from rockfall on Highway 50 during any phase of the project when traffic is lane-shifted to the south lane next to or including the shoulder of the road. Furthermore, the necessary maintenance in the only available travel lane would block the entire highway in certain work areas for an unspecified amount of time.

The 400' Lane Closure Myth

This constant OTR mantra is deceptive. The actual working area may be 400', but the impediment to traffic flow is far longer than that. CDOT and MUTCD regulations require approaching lane tapers, signage, and decreasing speed on each end of the work zone, creating nearly a mile of slow down in addition to a stop at the actual work area.

"During work phases, any closures required on US 50 for construction would be limited to one lane for up to 400 feet per activity location, exclusive of tapers, flaggers, signage, etc. as required by CDOT." [FEIS, Table 2-15 Design Features, page 2-67, #37, emphasis added]

Why does this matter?

Because of adverse effects on the project area's Economy, Safety and Quality of Life.

  • All canyon residents and many area businesses require timely highway travel throughout the entire canyon.
  • All local businesses that rely on transportation of goods and services will suffer lost revenue as a result of lane closures and increased travel times.