ARTBA Selects I-15, I-40 as Century’s Top Projects in NM

Sat November 02, 2002 - West Edition

Interstate 25 and Interstate 40 have been selected as New Mexico’s top transportation infrastructure projects of the 20th century by the Washington, D.C.-based American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

ARTBA conducted a national survey to help identify the top transportation infrastructure projects of the past century in all 50 states. The survey was sent to members of Congress, the nation’s governors, state transportation department heads, newspaper editors, state and local chambers of commerce executives and college history professors.

Interstate 25 (I-25) was recognized for its importance to the New Mexico economy and for providing unparalleled mobility to the state’s motorists.

Building the interstate highways in New Mexico involved a number of engineering and construction challenges. Known as the Pan American Highway, connecting Denver with Mexico, I-25 follows the Rio Grande for most of its way across New Mexico, much of it parallel to the old Santa Fe Trail.

As a route of international as well as domestic importance, its 457-mi. (735 km) path links the state’s major cities of Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. I-25 is a well-traveled roadway with usage averaging approximately 22,000 vehicles at its intersection with I-10 at Las Cruces near the Mexican border, and peaking at more than 150,000 in the urban Albuquerque area.

New Mexico’s Interstate 40 (I-40) is a vital link of a major transcontinental interstate route from North Carolina to California. It is essential for long-distance as well as local and regional traffic. I-40 is heavily used by commercial vehicles, which account for more than 60 percent of the vehicles traveling some sections of the highway.

I-40 in New Mexico is the modern incarnation of the historic U.S. Route 66, which early in the 20th century was developed as the key link between the Midwest and the West Coast. Crossing the state for 374 mi. (602 km) from east to west, I-40 intersects with I-25 in Albuquerque, where it accommodates more than 150,000 vehicles a day.

To alleviate congestion in Albuquerque, a $290-million reconstruction of the junction of I-25 and I-40 was scheduled for completion in the spring of 2001. In fact, it was completed ahead of schedule, in only 23 months. Known as “The Big I,” it replaced an old intersection with a capacity of 40,000 vehicles a day but jammed with 300,000 vehicles. The new facility is designed for a capacity of 400,000 vehicles.

ARTBA gave “honorable mention” to Albuquerque International Sunport in recognition of its important role to the state’s economy and growth.

For 100 years, ARTBA has exclusively represented the U.S. transportation construction industry in the Nation’s Capital. The association has played a key leadership role in the development and passage of every major piece of federal transportation legislation enacted by Congress over the past century. The transportation construction industry the award-winning ARTBA represents generates $200 billion in U.S. economic activity annually and sustains the employment of 2.5 million Americans.