US 64 in New Mexico
US 64 in New Mexico
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US 64 is a US Highway in the US state of New Mexico. The road forms a long east-west link through the north of the state. The road begins just in Arizona at Teec Nos Pos, then runs through Farmington and Raton to the Oklahoma border. The road is 705 kilometers long.
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US 64 in eastern New Mexico.
The road begins in Teec Nos Pos at the intersection with US 160, the road from Kayenta to Durango, Colorado. The road runs at about 1,700 meters through a mountainous desert area. After about 40 kilometers you reach the town of Shiprock, where you cross US 491, the road from Gallup in the south to Cortez in Colorado. The landscape in northwestern New Mexico is very rugged, and there are few major roads. US 64 is one of the larger roads, and has 2×2 lanes after Shiprock. The road runs along the San Juan River where some farming is possible. You pass Farmington, a town of 38,000 inhabitants, one of the larger towns in northern New Mexico. A little after Farmington, in Bloomfield, one crosses theUS 550, the 2×2 highway to Albuquerque to the south. After this, the 2×2 section of US 64 also ends, and you enter more mountainous terrain.
The road then runs for 250 kilometers through the Rocky Mountains to Taos. Much oil is extracted in this area and the mountains are dotted with pumpjacks. The road then rises to about 2200 meters altitude, and after Dulce follows a double numbering with US 84, the road from Pagosa Springs in Colorado. The double-numbering lasts about 40 kilometers, until Tierra Amarilla, where US 84 goes straight to Santa Fe to the south, and US 64 goes east through the San Juan Mountains. This mountain range has peaks of more than 3000 meters, and at Tres Piedras, a small village, one crosses US 285, a main road from Santa Fe to Alamosa in Colorado.
US 64 east of Raton.
You then pass through a wide valley, that of the Rio Grande. One then reaches Taos, a regional town in the northern Rocky Mountains of New Mexico. The road then begins a 160-kilometer route to Raton, through the easternmost ridges of the Rockies. The road rises here to about 2700 meters, before descending to the High Plains. The transition from the high mountains to the total plain is quite abrupt near the village of Cimarron. The road still runs along the foot of the mountains to Raton in the northeast. At Raton, the road briefly merges with I-25 toward Denver, then merges again with US 87coming from Denver. One then arrives at a lonely plateau at an altitude of about 2000 meters, which slopes towards the east. After about 130 kilometers you reach Clayton, the last town before the border. In Clayon, US 64 merges with US 56 and US 412, which come parallel from Springer, a little more south. US 87 then continues to Amarillo in the southeast. Not further after that is the border with Oklahoma. US 64 in Oklahoma then continues to Boise City.
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US 64 was created in 1926. The western starting point at the time was Capulin, New Mexico. In 1932 the western starting point was changed to Santa Fe and in 1974 to Farmington. Since 1989, US 64 has had its current starting point at Teec Nos Pos just over the border in Arizona. The original 1926 US 64 ran in northeastern New Mexico on what is now State Route 456, a remote secondary route.
When created in 1926, portions of the later route in northwestern New Mexico did not exist. No part of the existing part was asphalted. In the mid-1930s, the easternmost part between Capulin and the Texas border was paved. By 1938 the entire section east of Raton had been paved, and by 1940 the section between Cimarron and Raton had also been asphalted. This completely paved the route across the High Plains in eastern New Mexico.
Around 1937, the section between Shiprock, Farmington and Aztec was paved in northwestern New Mexico. This was numbered as US 550 at the time. Around 1940 a part between Monero and Chama was also asphalted, this was numbered as US 285 at the time. The lack of a through east-west route in northern New Mexico meant that development of the other routes was minimal until World War II.
It took until 1955 before the road from Santa Fe via Taos to Cimarron was completely paved. State Route 17 between Farmington and Monero was paved in the 1960s. The section between Tierra Amarilla and Tres Piedras did not exist at the time, east-west traffic only became easier when this missing section was constructed around 1970. Before that, east-west traffic always had to go through Santa Fe, or through Colorado. When US 64 was extended to Farmington in 1974, this route was already completely paved.
Relatively short stretches of US 64 have been widened into a 2×2 divided highway, primarily the eastern section between Raton and Clayton and the western section between Shiprock and Bloomfield. First, in the 1980s, the northwest portion of New Mexico was widened to 2×2 lanes, through the relatively densely populated corridor between Shiprock, Farmington, and Bloomfield. The eastern section from Raton to Clayton was widened to 2×2 lanes between 2008 and 2012 as one of the Governor Richardson’s Investment Partnership (GRIP) projects. West of Clayton this partly replaced a poor boy highway with 1×4 lanes.
The US 64 still handles quite a bit of traffic due to the lack of alternatives. Some 5,000 vehicles at the Arizona border, mostly tourist traffic. The 2×2 section at Farmington has a maximum of 26,000 vehicles, but this drops to about 1,000 vehicles at Dulce. The double numbering with US 84 has 2,000 to 2,600 vehicles, and only 300 vehicles on the route to Taos. There is a bit more traffic around Taos, about 14,000 vehicles, and 1,300 vehicles towards Raton. East of I-25, there are 2,000 to 3,500 vehicles per day.