Big I

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Big I
I-40 approaching the Big I.jpg
On I-40 approaching the Big I
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Coordinates35°06′17″N 106°37′48″W / 35.1048°N 106.6300°W / 35.1048; -106.6300
Roads at
TypeStack interchange
ConstructedJune 2000 – May 2002 (reconstruction)
Opened1966 (1966) (original)
May 2002 (reconstruction)
Maintained byNMDOT

Big I is the name of the freeway interchange where Interstate 25 and Interstate 40 intersect northeast of downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico.


The Big I is a complex stack interchange located in central Albuquerque, New Mexico.[1] The interchange, reconstructed between 2000 and 2002, is the busiest in the state, handling an average of 300,000 vehicles per day as of 2000.[2] The interchange accommodates traffic movements between I-25, I-40, and their associated frontage roads.


The Big I was originally built in the mid 1960s with left exits designed to handle 60,000 vehicles per day. By the late 1990s, however, it could no longer handle Albuquerque's increasing traffic flows and needed to be replaced. Construction work on a new interchange began in June 2000 and lasted until May 2002.

The reconstruction, which was budgeted to cost $221.8 million (equivalent to $392 million in 2024[3]),[2] was completed at a total cost $293 million, (equivalent to $496 million in 2024[3]), and took 23 months to complete. The reconstruction was the largest public works project ever undertaken in New Mexico, and was the winner of the 2002 President's Transportation Award for Highways from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.[4] A survey done in 2002 showed that after the completion of the project, the hours of annual delay dropped from 16 million to just 1.1 million.[5]

Tumbleweed Snowman

Since 1995, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority has installed a snowman made of tumbleweed in the right-of-way next to the Big I interchange in downtown Albuquerque

Tumbleweed Snowman is a snowman made of tumbleweed installed annually at the right-of-way next to the interchange.[6] It was first erected in 1995 by the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) and has been an annual tradition to put one up every December.

It is built from three tumbleweeds and recycled material accessories. It starts on "Tumbleweed Tuesday" which is the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.[7] By August, AMAFCA employees start to look for tumbleweeds they can use for their snowman. They weld their 3 tumbleweeds together on a stand to protect it from windstorms, and the snowman stands tall until the first week of January. The AMAFCA hat they use for this snowman is a 55 Gallon steel pot. The scarf around the snowman is made by one of the construction employees mother in-law.[8]

See also


  1. ^ ""Big I" Interchange Landscape". The Guide to New Mexico Architecture. 2019-08-20. Retrieved 2022-08-12.
  2. ^ a b "Major construction contract goes to Twin Mountain". Amarillo Globe-News. Morris Communications. Associated Press. February 8, 2000. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  3. ^ a b 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  4. ^ "Big I team wins transportation award". New Mexico Business Weekly. September 26, 2002. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  5. ^ "Bottlenecks choking U.S. roadways". CNN. February 19, 2004. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  6. ^ Fleck, John (November 30, 2010). "Tumbleweed Snowman Makes His Appearance". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  7. ^ Tumbleweed Snowman, Information. "The AMAFCA Snowman". AMAFCA Snowman Website. AMAFCA.
  8. ^ Materials and Additional Info. "Tumbleweed Snowman Information and Materials". Atlas Obscura Tumbleweed Snowman. Eirick Gumeny.

External links