El Paso is located next to the Rio Grande in a pass between two mile high mountains, hence the name. The current city grew from a settlement founded by Ponce de León in 1827, however missions date back to 1677, and the first known settlement in the area originated in 1598. Growth of the city spread beyond the original valley to surround the Franklin Mountains, which were eventually crossed by SH 375.
El Paso is unique for its distance from the major population centers of Texas. Historically, El Paso has been rather isolated from the more populous eastern half of Texas due to the extremely long drive across West Texas. In some ways, El Paso seems more a part of Mexico, particularly due to Ciudad Juárez on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.
Viewing Suglarloaf Mountain and the Franklin Mountain chain from the high flyover connecting SS 601 west with U.S. 54 south. Photo taken 04/25/17.
Due to the unique geography of El Paso, traffic funnels through Downtown along IH 10, leading to increased congestion. IH 10 is currently operating at capacity most of the day, and with heavy truck traffic, El Paso does not meet air quality standards. TxDOT widening plans for the eastern half of IH 10 through the city were accompanied by studies for the Northeast Parkway project.
Plans for the Northeast Parkway call for it to branch off IH 10 at Anthony, and follow NM 404 across “Anthony Gap” through the Franklin Mountains. Beyond the mountains, the road would turn southeast to meet Loop 375 in Fort Bliss. The Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) estimated costs for a two-lane version of the 21-mile long tollway at $188.4 million, and $233.4 million for the four-lane build out in 2009.1
Additional plans involved widening IH 10 east of US 54, and improvements to Loop 375 and US 85 to make the set of roads another alternate to IH 10.