Interstate 40 in New Mexico

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This article is about the section of highway in New Mexico. For the entire length of highway, see Interstate 40.

Interstate 40 marker

Interstate 40
Route information
Maintained by NMDOT
Length: 373.510 mi[2] (601.106 km)
Existed: 1957[1] – present
Major junctions
West end: I-40 at the Arizona state line
  US 491 in Gallup
I-25 / US 85 in Albuquerque
US 285 near Clines Corners
US 54 / US 84 in Santa Rosa
US 54 in Tucumcari
East end: I-40 at the Texas state line
Counties: McKinley, Cibola, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Torrance, Guadalupe, Quay
Highway system
NM 39 NM 41
Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico

Interstate 40 (I-40), a major east–west route of the Interstate Highway System, runs east–west through Albuquerque in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the direct replacement for the historic U.S. Route 66 in New Mexico.

Route description[edit]

Arizona to Albuquerque[edit]

As I-40 enters New Mexico in a northeasterly direction it begins following the basin of the intermittent Puerco River, roughly tracing the southern edge of the contiguous part of the Navajo Reservation in the state. The freeway enters Gallup twenty miles (32 km) later paralleling the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway's southern transcontinental mainline. Leaving Gallup the now more easterly I-40 passes to the north of Fort Wingate and part of the fragmented Cibola National Forest before crossing the North American continental divide at an elevation of 7,275 ft (2,217 m), with 11,305 ft (3,446 m) stratavolcano Mt. Taylor towering to the east.

The highway traverses more of the Navajo Reservation and the Cibola Forest before turning southeast and crossing a malpaís. After serving interchanges near Grants, the freeway, coinciding with the northern boundary of El Malpais National Monument, crosses another malpaís, turns east and enters the Acoma Indian Reservation, home of the Acoma Pueblo. The route leaves the Acoma Indian Reservation with Mt. Taylor to the north and enters the Laguna Pueblo. Near the interchange with NM-6 the railway line that accompanies much of the route from the Arizona border diverts to the south while the freeway turns east by northeast towards Albuquerque. The route departs the Laguna Pueblo, briefly transits the Tohajiilee Indian Reservation (a chapter of the Navajo Nation), crosses the Rio Puerco and begins a steep climb to the top of a mesa marked by several small cinder cones overlooking the Rio Grande rift and Albuquerque.

From Laguna to the Route 66 Casino, Interstate 40 has at-grade intersections [3] with a number of ranch access roads in violation of interstate highway standards. These intersections are a vestige that remain from the conversion of US-66 to I-40 during the latter part of the 20th century.

Albuquerque Metro Area[edit]

Interstate 40 diverges from the former US-66 alignment (Central Avenue) at an interchange with Atrisco Vista Boulevard on the West Mesa that overlooks Albuquerque. I-40 descends Nine Mile Hill as it enters the city of Albuquerque, and intersects 98th Street, Unser Boulevard (NM-345) and Coors Boulevard (NM-45) before crossing the Rio Grande. The freeway then skirts the northern edge of downtown Albuquerque before intersecting Interstate 25 at a 5-level stack interchange (Big I). East of I-25, I-40 continues east, then turns southeast passing through Uptown before intersecting Old US-66 (now signed as NM-333/Central Avenue) at Tramway Boulevard (NM-556) as it leaves Albuquerque and enters Tijeras Canyon. This section of I-40 is also referred to as the Coronado Freeway.

Albuquerque to Texas[edit]

East of Albuquerque, Interstate 40 crosses the Sandia-Manzano Mountains by traversing Tijeras Pass, reaching its highest point of 7,200 feet at Sedillo Ridge. Continuing east, I-40 descends out of the mountains and into the Estancia Valley while passing through the town of Edgewood. The highway continues east across the Estancia Valley, passing through Moriarty. Before reaching Clines Corners, I-40 ascends into the Pedrenal Hills, a region of hills and low-level ridgelines averaging around 7,000 feet in elevation. East of Clines Corners, I-40 gradually descends from the Pedrenal Hills region and into the High Plains of eastern New Mexico. At Santa Rosa, I-40 crosses the Pecos River, and then continues east-northwastward co-signed with US-54 to Tucumcari. At Tucumcari, I-40 diverges from US-54 and turns eastward and skirts the northern edge of San Jon before reaching the Texas state line at Glenrio.


Planning and construction of Interstate 40 through New Mexico began shortly after the Federal Highway Act of 1956 created the Interstate Highway System. First sections of I-40 through the state were completed by 1960 including a short section west of Tucumcari in Quay County, from a point just west of Santa Rosa west past Clines Corners to just east of Moriarty, along with a section on the east side of Albuquerque and another section from near Cubero to Grants, which included a new spur route connecting the Interstate Highway with U.S. 66 on that city's east side. Construction of I-40, generally paralleling the existing U.S. 66 in some sections and replacing the older route in others, was hobbled for a few years during this decade by the New Mexico Legislature's passage of an Anti-Bypassing Law that prohibited the construction of an interstate bypass around a city or town opposed to it. That law was repealed in 1966 following a threat of loss of federal funds and most New Mexico cities along I-40, I-25 and I-10 then worked out agreements with state and federal highway officials in determining where the bypass routes around their municipalities should be located.

By the end of the 1960s, most rural sections of I-40 were completed across the state with the largest exception being a 40-mile (64 km) stretch east of Tucumcari to the Texas border at Glenrio, where traffic was diverted to the old U.S. 66. That section of highway by this time became locally and nationally known as "Slaughter Lane" due to tremendous amounts of traffic for a two-lane highway along with rough and narrow paving which led to numerous injury and fatal traffic accidents that reached epidemic numbers in 1968 and 1969. Construction on this section of I-40 was held up by a dispute at San Jon concerning a proposed routing of I-40 bypassing that city to the north by some five miles (8 km), which was resolved in November 1969 when federal and state officials agreed to bring the bypass closer to the city along its northern limits. However, aside from a few small villages such as Montoya, Newkirk and Cuervo in the eastern portion of the state and Laguna, Budville and Cubero to the west, no major bypasses had been entirely completed in New Mexico so traffic was still diverted over the U.S. 66 routes through each of those cities.

In 1970, I-40 was entirely completed through the city of Albuquerque. Other bypasses were completed around various cities through the state including San Jon and Tucumcari (1981), Santa Rosa (1972), Moriarty (1973), Grants (1974) and Gallup (1980).

Exit list[edit]

County Location mi km Exit Destinations Notes
Arizona–New Mexico state line I-40 west continues into Arizona
McKinley   8 NM 118 – Defiance, Manuelito
Gallup 16 I-40 Bus. east / NM 118 – Gallup
20 US 491 north / NM 602 south (Munoz Boulevard) – Shiprock, Zuni
22 Miyamura Drive, Montoya Boulevard
26 I-40 Bus. west / NM 118 – Gallup
  33 NM 400 south – McGaffey
  36 NM 118 west – Iyanbito
  39 Refinery
  44 Coolidge
  47 NM 122 east – Continental Divide
Thoreau 53 NM 371 / NM 612 – Thoreau, Crown Point, Chaco Canyon, Farmington
  63 NM 412 – Prewitt
Cibola   72 NM 606 – Bluewater Village
Milan 79 I-40 Bus. east to NM 122 to NM 509 to NM 605 – Milan, San Mateo, Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Grants 81 NM 53 to I-40 Bus. to NM 122 – San Rafael, Grants Signed as exits 81A (south) and 81B (north) eastbound
85 I-40 Bus. west / NM 547 – Grants, Mount Taylor
  89 NM 117 – Quemado
  96 NM 124 – McCartys, Acoma, Sky City
  100 San Fidel
  102 Acomita, Acoma, Sky City
  104 Cubero, Budville
  108 NM 23 – Casa Blanca, Paraje
  114 NM 124 west – Laguna
  117 Mesita
  126 NM 6 east – Los Lunas
  131 To'hajiilee
Bernalillo   140 Rio Puerco
  149 Historic US 66 (Central Avenue) / NM 500 / Vista de Atrisco Boulevard
Albuquerque 153 98th Street
154 NM 345 (Unser Boulevard)
155 NM 448 (Coors Boulevard)
157A Rio Grande Boulevard
157B 12th Street Westbound exit is via exit 158; westbound 157B closed permanently
158 8th Street, 6th Street
159A NM 47 (4th Street) / 2nd Street Signed as exit 159D westbound
159 I-25 (Pan American Freeway) – Las Cruces, Santa Fe Signed as exits 159B (south) and 159C (north); I-25 exits 226A-B
160 Carlisle Boulevard
161 San Mateo Boulevard
162 Louisiana Boulevard
164 Wyoming Boulevard
165 Eubank Boulevard
166 Juan Tabo Boulevard
167 NM 556 / Historic US 66 (Tramway Boulevard) / Central Avenue
  170 NM 333 – Carnuel
  175 NM 14 / NM 337 – Tijeras, Cedar Crest
  178 Zuzax
  181 To NM 217 – Sedillo
Santa Fe Edgewood 187 NM 344 – Edgewood
Torrance Moriarty 194 I-40 Bus. east / Historic US 66 – Moriarty
196 NM 41 (Howard Cavasos Boulevard)
197 I-40 Bus. west / Historic US 66 – Moriarty Access to eastbound I-40 only; access to westbound I-40 via Howard Cavasos Boulevard
  203 (no name)
  208 Wagon Wheel
  218A Clines Corners Westbound exit only
  218B US 285 – Vaughn, Santa Fe, Roswell Signed as exit 218 eastbound
  226 (no name)
  230 NM 3 – Encino, Villanueva
  234 (no name)
  239 (no name)
Guadalupe   243 (no name) Milagro Signed as exits 243B and 243A westbound (both unnamed)
  252 (no name)
  256 US 84 north (NM 219 south) – Las Vegas West end of US 84 overlap
  263 San Ignacio
  267 Colonias
Santa Rosa 273 I-40 Bus. east (US 84) – Santa Rosa, Vaughn East end of US 84 overlap
275 Santa Rosa (I-40 Bus. / US 54 / US 84)
277 I-40 Bus. west / US 54 west / US 84 – Santa Rosa, Fort Sumner, Clovis West end of US 54 overlap
  284 (no name)
  291 Cuervo
  300 NM 129 – Newkirk
Quay   311 Montoya
  321 Palomas
  329 I-40 Bus. east / Historic US 66 / US 54 east (West Tucumcari Boulevard) East end of US 54 overlap
  331 Camino del Coronado – Tucumcari
Tucumcari 332 NM 209 / NM 104 (1st Street)
333 US 54 east (Mountain Road), Ute Lake State Park, Dalhart
335 I-40 Bus. west / Historic US 66 (East Tucumcari Boulevard)
  339 NM 278
  343 (no name)
San Jon 356 NM 469 / Historic US 66 – San Jon
  361 Bard
  369 NM 93 south / NM 392 north – Endee
New Mexico–Texas state line I-40 east continues into Texas
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


External links[edit]

Route map: Bing

Interstate 40
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