Interstate 40 in New Mexico

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Interstate 40

I-40 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by NMDOT
Length373.530 mi[1] (601.138 km)
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
West end I-40 at the Arizona state line
Major intersections
East end I-40 at the Texas state line
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico
CountiesMcKinley, Cibola, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Torrance, Guadalupe, Quay
Highway system
  • New Mexico State Highway System
NM 39 NM 41

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

Route description

Arizona to Albuquerque

Aerial view, from the north, of I-40 in western New Mexico between Grants and Albuquerque, with Laguna Pueblo, Mesita, and Rio San Jose, and tributaries Arroyo Conchas (left) and Rio Paguate (right, with NM 279)
I-40 at Rio Puerco just west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with the Route 66 Casino by their intersection

As I-40 enters New Mexico in a northeasterly direction, it begins following the basin of the intermittent Puerco River (Rio Puerco of the West, as opposed to the Rio Puerco of the East that it crosses near Albuquerque), roughly tracing the southern edge of the contiguous part of the Navajo Reservation in the state. The freeway enters Gallup 20 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 feet (2,217 m), with the 11,305-foot (3,446 m) stratovolcano Mount 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 State Road 6 (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 toward 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, I-40 has at-grade intersections 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

I-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, NM 345 (Unser Boulevard), and NM 45 (Coors Boulevard) before crossing the Rio Grande. The freeway then skirts the northern edge of Downtown Albuquerque before intersecting I-25 at a five-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 NM 556 (Tramway Boulevard) as it leaves Albuquerque and enters Tijeras Canyon. This section of I-40 is also referred to as the Coronado Freeway.

Albuquerque to Texas

I-40 in eastern New Mexico
Club Cafe sign near Santa Rosa, exit 273 (1987)

East of Albuquerque, I-40 crosses the Sandia–Manzano Mountains by traversing Tijeras Pass, reaching its highest point of 7,200 feet (2,200 m) at Sedillo Ridge. Continuing east, I-40 descends out of the mountains and into the Estancia Valley while passing through the town of Edgewood (exit 187). The highway continues east across the Estancia Valley, passing through Moriarty (exits 194, 196, and 197). Before reaching Clines Corners, I-40 ascends into the Pedrenal Hills, a region of hills and low-level ridgelines averaging around 7,000 feet (2,100 m) in elevation. East of Clines Corners (exit 218), I-40 gradually descends from the Pedrenal Hills region and into the High Plains of eastern New Mexico. At Santa Rosa (exits 273, 275, and 277), I-40 crosses the Pecos River and then continues east-northwestward cosigned 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 I-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 eastside of Albuquerque and another section from near Cubero to Grants, which included a new spur route connecting the Interstate Highway with US 66 on that city's eastside. Construction of I-40, generally paralleling the existing US 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 US 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.[3] 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 (8.0 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 US 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 (1976) and Tucumcari (1981),[4] Santa Rosa (1972), Moriarty (1973), Grants (1974), and Gallup (1980).[5]

Exit list

I-40 west – Flagstaff
Continuation into Arizona
8.3613.458 NM 118 – Defiance, Manuelito
Gallup16.3626.3316 NM 118 – GallupWestern terminus of former I-40 Bus.

US 491 north / NM 602 south (Muñoz Boulevard) – Shiprock, Zuni
US 491/NM 602 not signed westbound; westbound entrance includes direct entrance ramp from Maloney Avenue; former US 666
22.6636.4722Miyamura Drive / Montoya Boulevard
25.8341.5726 NM 118 – GallupEastern terminus of former I-40 Bus.
McGaffey33.5253.9533 NM 400 – McGaffey
NM 118 west – Iyanbito
Eastern terminus of NM 118
NM 122 east – Continental Divide
Western terminus of NM 122
Thoreau53.1785.5753 NM 371 / NM 612 – Thoreau
Prewitt63.18101.6863 NM 412 – Prewitt
CibolaBluewater Village72.05115.9572 NM 606 – Bluewater Village
NM 122 to NM 605 – Milan, San Mateo
Western terminus of former I-40 Bus.; access to NM 122 via Horizon Boulevard
NM 53 to NM 122 – San Rafael, Grants
Signed as exits 81A (south) and 81B (north) eastbound

NM 122 west to NM 547 – Grants, Mount Taylor
Eastern terminus of NM 122, eastern terminus of former I-40 Bus.
89.26143.6589 NM 117 – Quemado
96.33155.0396McCartys, Acoma, Sky CityNM 124 not signed; former US 66
San Fidel99.86160.71100San Fidel
101.69163.65102Acomita, Acoma, Sky City
104.60168.34104Cubero, Budville, Seama
107.74173.39108Casa Blanca, Paraje
NM 124 west – Laguna
Eastern terminus of NM 124; former US 66
NM 6 east – Los Lunas
Bernalillo140.05225.39140Rio Puerco
149.25240.19149Atrisco Vista BoulevardFormer NM 500
Albuquerque151.98244.5915398th Street / Arroyo Vista Blvd
153.10246.39154 NM 345 (Unser Boulevard)
154.76249.06155 NM 45 (Coors Boulevard)
156.67252.14157ARio Grande Boulevard
157.39253.29157B12th StreetEastbound exit and westbound entrance; westbound access via exit 158
157.85254.031588th Street / 6th StreetNo westbound entrance
158.02254.31159A4th Street / 2nd Street / University BoulevardEastbound exit and westbound entrance
159.05255.97159B-C I-25 / US 85 (Pan American Freeway) – Las Cruces, Santa FeSigned as exits 159B (south) and 159C (north); I-25 exits 226A-B; former NM 422; serves Albuquerque International Sunport and Presbyterian Hospital
159.38256.50159D University Boulevard / 2nd Street / 4th StreetWestbound exit and eastbound entrance; serves University of New Mexico Hospital
160.50258.30160Carlisle Boulevard
161.46259.84161San Mateo Boulevard
162.62261.71162Louisiana Boulevard
163.75263.53164Wyoming Boulevard
164.19264.24Lomas BoulevardFormer westbound exit and eastbound entrance from eastbound Lomas Boulevard; replaced by completion of Wyoming Boulevard interchange
164.90265.38165Eubank Boulevard
165.97267.10166Juan Tabo Boulevard
167 NM 556 (Tramway Boulevard) / Historic US 66 (Central Avenue)Historic US 66 (Central Ave.) not signed eastbound
168.87271.77170 NM 333 – Carnuel
175 NM 14 / NM 337 – Tijeras, Cedar Crest
Zuzax177.17285.13178 NM 333 – Zuzax
To NM 217 – Sedillo
Santa FeEdgewood186.73300.51187 NM 344 – Edgewood
I-40 BL east / Historic US 66 – Moriarty
195.93315.32196 NM 41 (Howard Cavasos Boulevard)
I-40 BL west / Historic US 66 – Moriarty
No westbound entrance
203.38327.31203Longhorn RanchExit does not sign this destination
Wagon Wheel208.39335.37208Wagon Wheel
Clines Corners217.59350.18218AClines CornersFormer westbound exit only (closed and removed 2015)
218 US 285 – Vaughn, Santa Fe, Roswell
225.81363.41226PalmaExit does not sign this destination
230.17370.42230 NM 3 – Encino, Villanueva
233.71376.12234Flying CExit does not sign this destination; westbound has two separate exits with the same number and destination
238.69384.13239McKenzieExit does not sign this destination
Guadalupe242.83390.80243MilagroExit does not sign this destination; signed as exits 243B and 243A westbound
251.58404.88Eastbound Rest Stop
Vaughn Route 66 Rest Stop; exit 252

US 84 north / NM 219 south – Las Vegas, Pastura
Northern terminus of NM 219; western end of US 84 concurrency
San Ignacio262.83422.98263San Ignacio
Santa Rosa272.38438.35273
I-40 BL east (Historic US 66) – Santa Rosa
I-40 Bus. not signed westbound
274.37441.56275Santa Rosa (I-40 Bus. / US 54)

I-40 BL west / US 54 south (Historic US 66) / US 84 south – Fort Sumner, Santa Rosa
Eastern end of US 84 concurrency; western end of US 54 concurrency; I-40 Bus./US 54 not signed eastbound
283.96456.99284Frontier Museum
Newkirk299.27481.63300 NM 129 – Newkirk
I-40 BL / Historic US 66 east
Western terminus of I-40 Bus.
330.30531.57331Camino del Coronado
NM 209 to NM 104 (1st Street)
US 54 east (Mountain Road)
Eastern end of US 54 concurrency
I-40 BL / Historic US 66 west
337.81543.65339 NM 278
343.13552.21343Quay Road ADExit does not sign this road
San Jon355.25571.72356 NM 469 / Historic US 66 – San Jon

NM 93 south / NM 392 north – Endee
I-40 east – Amarillo
Continuation into Texas
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also


  1. ^ "Interstate Routes" (PDF). New Mexico Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  2. ^ Public Roads Administration (August 14, 1957). Official Route Numbering for the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, As Adopted by the American Association of State Highway Officials (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Public Roads Administration. Retrieved June 16, 2011 – via Wikimedia Commons.
  3. ^ "Historic Route 66: The Mother Road" (PDF). County Star-News. Shamrock, TX. March 15, 2012. pp. E2–E8.
  4. ^ "Route 66 History Page".
  5. ^ Sonderman, Joe (2016). Route 66 Roadside Signs and Advertisements. Voyageur Press. p. 89.
  6. ^ New Mexico Department of Transportation (2007). Statewide Milepost/Point Map (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Santa Fe: New Mexico Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 22, 2013.
  7. ^ "TIMS Road Segments by Posted Route/Point with AADT Info: I-Routes" (PDF). New Mexico Department of Transportation. June 8, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2019.

External links

Interstate 40
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