Albquerque’s metropolitan area includes fast-growing Rio Rancho, with its new Central Business District. Highlighted here is what remains within the New Mexico state highway system, historic U.S. 66 and 85, and the freeway network.
Some of the historical information (especially regarding state routes) provided on this guide was researched using Steve Riner’s New Mexico Highways web site.
Pan American Freeway
Interstate 25 is known as the Pan American Freeway through the Albuquerque metropolitan area. The freeway joins the Sandoval County cities of Bernalillo and Rio Rancho with Albuquerque and South Valley as the main north-south route. Overall capacity ranges from four lanes through the Sandia Pueblo to ten lanes outside of Downtown.
Portions of Interstate 25 were improved through the mid-2000s as part of the GRIP initiative. A $15.5-million project upgraded the freeway at NM 556 (Tramway Road) by expanding the road to six lanes and replacing the 1955-58 overpasses above Tramway Road. Work at Exit 234 was completed by Spring 2006.
The Tramway Road interchange work is part of an overall GRIP project to expand Interstate 25 northward from Albuquerque to Bernalillo. Work starting in 2008 widened the freeway to six overall lanes from NM 556 to U.S. 550, through Sandia Pueblo and the city of Bernalillo.1
A second Albuquerque area GRIP project was the reconstruction of Exit 220 with NM 500 (Rio Bravo Boulevard). Growth in the Mesa Del Sol master-planned community included an extension of University Boulevard south to the Isleta Amphitheater entertainment venue. Improvements at the interchange enhanced accessibility to the area. A second interchange to Mesa Del Sol via the planned Mesa Del Sol Boulevard was also proposed along Interstate 25.
GRIP was Governor Bill Richardson’s Investment Partnership program, a $1.6-billion effort to improve highway infrastructure throughout the state.
Replacing the post-1937 routing of U.S. 66, Interstate 40 (Coronado Freeway) crosses the city of Albuquerque from west Bernalillo County and the Laguna Indian Reservation to Cibola National Forest and Tijeras. Like Interstate 25, the freeway varies from four lanes in rural areas to ten lanes near Downtown. Much of the freeway through Albuquerque opened in 1962.
Several GRIP projects upgraded Interstate 40 across Bernalillo County. Most notably, the “Big I” project at the exchange joining Interstates 40 and 25, was completed in 2002 after just 24 months of construction. That project rebuilt a low-speed directional interchange between the two freeways into a multi-level interchange with high speed flyovers. Work on the ramps coincided with frontage road construction and other area improvements.
Other interchanges along the Coronado Freeway that were upgraded include the exchange at Coors Boulevard. Originally a directional-cloverleaf interchange with left-hand ramps, work at Exit 155 included the addition of flyover ramps and adjacent improvements ranging from new pedestrian bridges and a new Coors Boulevard overpass. This work was completed in 2006.
Further west in rural Bernalillo County, a completed GRIP project redesigned the Rio Puerco interchange on and off-ramps in conjunction with a new roundabout at the Route 66 Casino. Work was completed between August and November 2007.
East of Interstate 25, the San Mateo Boulevard interchange (Exit 161) received a $25-million GRIP redesign. Changes removed the loop ramp (Exit 161B) to San Mateo Boulevard north and redesigned the remaining ramps to accommodate eight to ten lanes of Interstate 40 below. Work began in fall 2008.
Additional projects included the redesign of the West Central Avenue (Historic U.S. 66) split and Atrisco Vista Boulevard Interchange (Exit 149) west of Albuquerque. Anticipated development along Paseo del Volcan and projected traffic increases justified the construction. Work removed the wye interchange with Central Avenue and redirected all movements to the adjacent diamond interchange with Atrisco Vista Boulevard (NM 500). Prior to July 2011, guide signs on I-40 referenced Exit 149 as Paseo del Volcan. The assemblies were changed once plans for the future Paseo del Volcan alignment shifted westward to no longer tie into I-40 at Exit 149.2
Former Business Loop I-40 – Central Avenue
Business Loop Interstate 40 was the designation given to U.S. 66 after the route was decommissioned through Albuquerque along Central Avenue. The designation was removed from the state logs sometime during the 1990s, but several reassurance signs remained in the field in 2008, with at least three still standing in 2017.
U.S. 550 is the lone U.S. highway serving the Albuquerque metropolitan area. The route replaced NM 44 when the highway was four-laned by 2000. U.S. 550 ends at a single point urban interchange (Exit 242) with Interstate 25, opposite with NM 165 in Bernalillo. The highway joins Albuquerque and Rio Rancho with Farmington to the northwest.
Historic U.S. 66 / Former U.S. 85
There are no U.S. highways remaining within the system in Albuquerque. U.S. 66 however, is well signed along its two historic routes through the area. The pre-1937 route follows Iseleta Boulevard northward (along what would later be signed U.S. 85) to Bridge Boulevard across the Rio Grande and into the city of Albuquerque. Turning northward on 4th Street, old U.S. 66 traverses Downtown en route to Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and Alameda. NM 313 continues old U.S. 66/85 northward from NM 556 into Sandoval County. The state highway continues the route through Bernalillo and Santa Ana Pueblo.
The post-1937 route of U.S. 66 simply entails Central Avenue through Albuquerque and various frontage road segments parallel to Interstate 40. Central Avenue was also previously a part of Business Loop I-40, but that designation too was decommissioned. NM 333 follows old U.S. 66 east from Albuquerque to Camuel and Tijeras.
U.S. 85 was replaced wholly by Interstate 25 within the state of New Mexico by 1990. The route followed the pre-1937 routing of U.S. 66 throughout the Albuquerque area.
Additionally U.S. 85 Alternate route existed in Albuquerque along 2nd Street, between Bridge Boulevard and Alameda in conjunction with 3rd Street southbound through Downtown. Eliminated by 1988, the bannered route was previously replaced with NM 47 in 1977. NM 47 would later shift eastward to Broadway Boulevard, leaving 2nd Street as an unnumbered roadway.3
There are a handful of state routes serving the Albuquerque metropolitan area. Many of the those designated in the original system were decommissioned by 1988. The following list catalogs both those remaining and those previously turned back. Some mapping companies and geodata providers continue to acknowledge many of these routes.
NM 44 – Decommissioned
NM 44 was replaced by NM 165 east of U.S. 85 by 1988 and by an extension of U.S. 550 by 2000.
NM 45 – Coors Boulevard
Following Coors Boulevard northward, NM 45 travels from South Valley to Arenal and west Albuquerque, ending at Central Avenue (U.S. 66). NM 45 originally ended at the Coors Road intersection with Central, but was realigned in the 1990s onto Coors Boulevard to its present end. Many maps still show the old alignment as NM 45 and the new alignment as NM 448, but NM 448 only travels Coors Boulevard as far south as St. Joseph’s Drive.
NM 46 – Decommissioned
NM 46 was replaced both by a northern extension of NM 448, and by NM 558 in 1988. It originally ran along Corrales Road through Corrales to Rio Rancho, and on current NM 556 to U.S. 550.
NM 47 – Broadway Blvd / Candelaria Rd / 2nd St
NM 47 was replaced by U.S. 85 Alternate along its route along 2nd Street within the city during the 1950s. With the decommissioning of U.S. 85 Alternate by 1988, the designation was reassigned. A later shift would move the state highway onto Broadway over then-NM 361. NM 47 follows Broadway Boulevard north from South Valley through Downtown to Candelaria Road where it turns west. Candelaria Road returns the route to 2nd Street, which leads north to Alameda and the NM 47 terminus at 4th Street (NM 556 south / former NM 313 south).
NM 98 – Decommissioned
Terminated in 1988, NM 98 mostly followed Edith Boulevard. NM 98 basically acted as a loop between Broadway Boulevard and 2nd Street via Osuna Road.
NM 135 – Decommissioned
Removed by the late 1960s, NM 135 followed Bridge Boulevard west from Iseleta Boulevard (U.S. 85) to Central Avenue (U.S. 66).
NM 165 replaced NM 44 east of Interstate 25 at Exit 252 in 1985. The two-lane roadway serves the Placitas community on its rural course to NM 536 in Bernalillo County.
NM 194 – Decommissioned
Originally eight miles in length, NM 194 was truncated to one half mile in the mid-80s, and removed completely by the early 2000s. The state highway followed Rio Grande Boulevard north from Central Avenue (U.S. 66) in Albuquerque to NM 528 (Alameda Boulevard) in Alameda.
NM 296 – Decommissioned
Replaced by nearby NM 528 (Alameda Boulevard), NM 296 traveled just one mile along Alameda Road between then-U.S. 85 (4th Street) and former-NM 425 (Edith Road). The route was terminated in the mid 1980s.
NM 303 – Decommissioned
NM 303 represents a former six-mile route along Desert Road and 2nd Street between NM 47 (Broadway Boulevard) in South Valley and former-NM 314 (Bridge Boulevard) south of Downtown. NM 303 replaced the relocated NM 47 between 1988 and its decommissioning in 2000.
4th Street carried NM 313 northward from former-NM 314 (Bridge Boulevard) until 1988. The route was truncated to Roy Avenue (NM 556), with NM 556 overtaking the short segment between 2nd Street (NM 47) and Roy Avenue as well. Currently NM 313 travels 17.1 miles north from NM 556 (Roy Avenue) to Bernalillo through Santa Ana Pueblo.
Like NM 313 to the north, NM 314 followed the old U.S. 66/85 routing (Iseleta Boulevard / Bridge Boulevard) south from central Albuquerque to South Valley (Interstate 25 at Exit 213). Truncation north of Interstate 25 occurred in 1988, leaving an 18.5-mile segment southward to Business Loop I-25 in Belen.
Providing a short connector between Interstate 25 at Exit 248 and NM 313 (former U.S. 66/85), NM 315 serves the Algodones area within the San Felipe Indian Reservation.
NM 333 follows old U.S. 66, parallel to Interstate 40 east from Albuquerque to Camuel and Tijeras, on a 27.7-mile routing. NM 333 begins at the Central Avenue intersection with NM 556 (Tramway Boulevard) adjacent to Interstate 40 at Exit 167.
NM 345 – Unser Boulevard
NM 345 overlays 3.65 miles of Unser Boulevard, a lengthy north-south arterial that joins the Bernalillo west suburbs with Rio Rancho in Sandoval County. The route begins at Central Avenue (U.S. 66) and ends at St. Joseph’s Avenue.
NM 367 – Decommissioned
This route followed San Mateo Boulevard south from Interstate 25 at Exit 230 to Central Avenue (U.S. 66) in Albuquerque. An unmarked route, NM 367 traveled just five miles and was designated from the 1960s to the 1980s.
NM 423 – Paseo Del Norte
Albuquerque’s only non-Interstate freeway, NM 423 (Paseo Del Norte Boulevard), provides high-speed travel between Jefferson Street (North Valley) and Eagle Ranch Road (Paradise Hills). Overall the route totals 17.0-miles between NM 556 (Tramway Boulevard) and Golf Course Road. The non-freeway portion consists of a busy surface arterial east to North Albuquerque Acres. A western extension carries Paseo Del Norte beyond the state highway end to Atrisco Vista Boulevard, with an ultimate end planned at the proposed Northwest Loop Road.
NM 425 – Decommissioned
A former three-mile route along Edith Boulevard between Osuna Road and former-NM 296 (Alameda Road) in North Valley. NM 425 was removed by 1990.
NM 448 – Coors Boulevard
A 13.0-mile route, NM 448 loops east from NM 528 through Corrales to Coors Boulevard in Albuquerque. The state route follows all of Coors southward to a truncated end at St. Joseph’s Avenue. Originally NM 448 traveled between Central Avenue and NM 46 (Corrales Road). In 1988 the route replaced NM 46 north of NM 528 (Alameda Boulevard) into Sandoval County.
NM 473 represents a short connector between Interstate 25 at Exit 240 and NM 313 (old U.S. 66/85) in Bernalillo.
NM 500 – Atrisco Vista Blvd / Rio Bravo Blvd
Following Rio Bravo Boulevard, NM 500 travels 4.35 miles east-west between NM 45 (Coors Boulevard) and Interstate 25 at Exit 220. The entire route is a four-lane divided arterial.
NM 528 – Alameda Blvd / Pat D’Arco Hwy
NM 528 constitutes a 15.4-mile loop west from Interstate 25 through Rio Rancho and north Albuquerque. Beginning at Exit 233, the state highway follows Alameda Boulevard west to the Coors Bypass north of Cottonwood Mall. Pat D’Arco Highawy continues the route northward through Sandoval County to U.S. 550. The northernmost segment, from Corrales Road (NM 448) north, replaced NM 46.
NM 556 – Tramway Road / Boulevard
This state highway takes Tramway Boulevard / Road north from Foot Hills Road and Interstate 40 at Exit 167 around the northeast side of Albuquerque to the Roy Avenue extension at Interstate 25 (Exit 234). NM 556’s west end lies at the 2nd Street (NM 47) split from 4th Street.
The east-west portion of Tramway Road opened in the early 1970s through Sandia Pueblo, linking with the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. Tramway Boulevard followed with construction in the 1980s as a north-south arterial.
Northwest Loop Road
Currently most of the Northwest Loop Road exists only on paper, except for a short segment at Hawk Site in far northern Rio Rancho. West from there, Northwest Loop Road stays north of Mariposa East to Mariposa Ranch and the Rio Ranch Estates area. Outside of Rio Ranch Estates, the road turns southward en route to Interstate 40, beyond the western fringes of suburban development.
The route will initially consist of a two-lane gravel road with upgrades to a paved highway as development warrants. Ultimately, Northwest Loop Road will consist of an arterial route.
Paseo del Volcan
There are two segments of Paseo del Volcan: The southern segment stays west of Albuquerque from Senator Dennis Chavez Boulevard north to Interstate 40 at Exit 149, and then beyond to Petroglyph National Monument. Annexations by the city of Albuquerque placed Paseo del Volcan within the city limits from Double Eagle II Airport (AEG) northward to the west extension of Paseo Del Norte at Quail Ranch.
Within Sandoval County, Paseo del Volcan serves the Central Business District of Rio Rancho between Iris Road and Unser Boulevard. Much of the route remains proposed within Rio Rancho, including the southwest extension through Rio Rancho Estates and Bernalillo County. Construction of Paseo del Volcan to U.S. 550 at Enchanted Hills was slated for completion by 2010. Like Northwest Loop Road, Paseo del Volcan will be built as an arterial.
|Coal Avenue east|
|8th Street northbound at Coal Avenue east. Coal Avenue, in conjunction with Lead Avenue, provides a through route east to Interstate 25 over the BNSF Railroad. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|Coal Avenue has a new urbanism feel as it travels east from 8th Street south of downtown Albuquerque. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|6th Street travels north into the Albuquerque central business district from Iron Avenue. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|Eastbound Coal Avenue at 5th Street. Coal Avenue is one of several streets named after metals. Others include Iron, Lead, Silver, Gold and Copper. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|4th Street crosses Coal Avenue in this scene. The north-south street carried U.S. 66 from Bridge Boulevard northward until 1937. U.S. 85 followed the street until 1990. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|Entering the intersection with 3rd Street on Coal Avenue east. Prior to 1988, 3rd Street was a part of U.S. 85 Alternate southbound through Downtown. Northbound followed 2nd Street. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|Coal Avenue switches to one-way street eastbound beyond 2nd Street. 2nd Street leads north into the Arts and Entertainment District of Downtown Albuquerque. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|A three-lane viaduct carries Coal Avenue eastward over 1st Street and the BNSF/Amtrak railroad lines between 2nd Street and Broadway. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|Coal Avenue touches down at Broadway (New Mexico 47). New Mexico 47 travels Broadway (former New Mexico 361) from South Valley to Candelaria Road. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|Entering the intersection with Locust Street at the southbound on-ramp to Interstate 25. A split diamond interchange joins the freeway with Coal Avenue east and Lead Avenue west. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|Weathered sign assembly for the northbound on-ramp to Interstate 25 over Coal Avenue east. Oak Street leads drivers north to the freeway while also acting as a frontage road to Lomas Boulevard. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
|Oak Street represents New Mexico Frontage Road 2523 heading north from Exit 224A. Coal Avenue continues beyond the freeway east to Roosevelt Park. Photo taken 06/29/08.|
- “Atrisco Vista Blvd. New Name on I-40.” Albuquerque Journal (NM), July 9, 2011.
- U.S. and Interstate Highways in New Mexico (Steve Riner)
Page Updated February 12, 2018.