New Mexico State Road 599
|Santa Fe Relief Route|
|Maintained by NMDOT|
|Length||14.019 mi (22.561 km)|
|South end||NM 14 near Santa Fe|
|North end||US 84 / US 285 in Santa Fe|
New Mexico Route 599 is a state highway located entirely within Santa Fe County in New Mexico. It is known as the Veterans Memorial Highway and the Santa Fe Relief Route; both names are used on road signs. The latter name alludes to the highway's original purpose of bypassing the urbanized areas of Santa Fe and thereby relieving it from shipments of hazardous waste. It passes through less densely developed terrain in and around the northwestern boundary of the municipality. This expressway's total length is approximately 14 miles (23 km). The speed limits on it range from 45 to 65 miles per hour (70 to 105 km/h).
At its southern end, NM-599 begins at the traffic light controlled intersection of itself, Cerrillos Road (NM-14), and Avenida del Sur about two miles (3.2 km) south of the municipal boundaries of Santa Fe. The speed limit is 45 mph (70 km/h) as the expressway crosses under and connects mostly at-grade with Interstate 25's (I-25) frontage roads and exit ramps (Exit 276), providing intermediate access from the freeway to a horse racetrack, businesses and homes on the frontage road. After a traffic light on the route at I-25's western frontage road, the speed limit increases from 45 to 65 mph (70 to 105 km/h) for approximately two miles (3.2 km), as the expressway travels north up and over two hills, passing to the west of some of the city's newer neighborhoods and to the east of the Santa Fe Municipal Airport, before slowing again to 45 mph as it approaches the remaining traffic light controlled intersection on the route at Airport Road (former NM-284, now Santa Fe County Road 56). As the highway leaves the industrial and residential area near the intersection with Airport Road, the speed limit increases to 55 mph (90 km/h) and it crosses the Santa Fe River. After the river the relief route's western frontage road begins.
The relief route then turns to the northeast and begins a long moderate climb through rolling terrain with grasses and juniper shrubs punctuated by mostly light residential development, as the road follows at a distance the city's northwestern boundary, until it reaches a diamond interchange with Camino la Tierra. The western frontage road continuously follows the expressway on this section of the route and it bulbs out (for the purpose of the construction of a future interchange) at two at-grade intersections with local highways controlled by stop signs. The western frontage road ends at Camino la Tierra. There are two more at-grade intersections, one of which is an unused stub, on the route as the expressway continues to the northeast and enters the city of Santa Fe's northern incorporated area, which is projected to be developed, but is largely open space. There is another diamond interchange at the route's highest point, which at 7,265 feet (2,214 m) is almost 1,000 ft (300 m) higher than the route's junction with I-25 approximately twelve miles (19 km) to the southwest. As the expressway crosses under Ridgetop Road the speed limit decreases to 45 mph (70 km/h) and the highway descends promptly into an arroyo. Less than a mile later NM-599 ends at a trumpet interchange with the U.S Route 84/285 freeway in Santa Fe.
In contrast to several other state highways in northern New Mexico, NM-599 is paved for its entire length. Functionally, it is an expressway by being a divided highway with no driveway access. Instead, local access is provided by linked frontage roads or by way of other connecting roads. There are three diamond interchanges (with a fourth interchange under construction), one partial cloverleaf interchange at the junction with I-25 (which was rebuilt as a diamond interchange in 2009 as part of the construction of a train station in the freeway's median) and several local highways that cross it at intervals, controlled by stop signs (none on NM-599 itself) or traffic lights near the southern end. Upgrades to the expressway are a consideration being undertaken by the New Mexico Department of Transportation's NM 599 Corridor Study.
The Santa Fe Relief Route is significant as part of the road network traversed by vehicles transporting radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) north of Santa Fe to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in southern New Mexico near Carlsbad. Much of the funding for construction of the Route was supplied by the United States Department of Energy so that WIPP-bound waste from LANL would not have to pass through the center of Santa Fe. However, most of the traffic on the road is general public use and has nothing to do with WIPP waste, which is moved only at infrequent intervals in special convoys. Construction of the Route took place over a period of several years in the 1990s.
The entire route is in Santa Fe County.
|||0.000||0.000||NM 14||Southern terminus; road continues east as Avenida del Sur|
|—||I-25 (US 85) – Albuquerque, Las Vegas||South end of freeway; I-25 exit 276|
|2||Jaguar Drive||Diamond interchange; opened to traffic on November 18, 2015|
|3.581||5.763||—||To CR 56 / Airport Road||Former NM 284|
|6.300||10.139||6||CR 62 (South Meadows Road)||Diamond interchange|
|10.230||16.464||—||Camino La Tierra / Paseo Nopal – Las Campanas|
|13.040||20.986||—||North Ridge Top Road|
|14.019||22.561||—||US 84 / US 285 – Española, Santa Fe||Northern terminus; US 285 south exit 166|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|