New Mexico wants off the 'Highway to Hell'

| 1/29/2003

It’s often said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In New Mexico, it’s paved with blacktop.

In this case, the road is a U.S. highway that runs from Gallup to Shiprock, NM, and that is well known as one of the most dangerous highways in that state.

Twenty-one people died on the road and 144 were injured in 2000 and 2001, according to Reuters news service, placing the 160-mile stretch among the highest fatalities per mile of any road in the state, and earning it a dubious nickname: The Highway to Hell.

The road’s official name does nothing to help its image: U.S. Route 666.

Now’s the part where the good intentions come in – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson told the news service last week he wants to renovate the road to cut fatalities and even change the highway’s name because of the number’s association with Satan.

Reuters said the highway received the 666 because it was the sixth highway to branch off of the famed U.S. Route 66. The name has remained since 1942. The highway is in the four corners region, running north along the Arizona border from I-40 to just south of the Colorado border.