Say goodbye to the ‘Highway to Hell’

| Tuesday, July 22, 2003

For years, New Mexico officials have wanted to change the name of U.S. 666 – locally known as the “Highway to Hell.”

Finally, they’re going to get their wish. And now that the highway’s going to get a new number, souvenir hunters are doing their part by making the old number disappear as fast as possible.

The road, so named because it was the sixth highway to branch off of the famed U.S. Route 66, has held the number since 1942. In addition to its Satanic-sounding name, U.S. 666 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, Reuters reported.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said in January he wanted to renovate the road and change the highway’s name. According to The Associated Press, in June, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation announced plans to do its part, changing the number from 666 to 491.

The AP reported that as soon as the announcement came through, the old “U.S. 666” signs started disappearing – and fast.

In fact, not one sign remains between Gallup, NM, and the Colorado border.

"Since the reports that we were changing the name, we virtually had everything stolen. It was a feeding frenzy," S.U. Mahesh, a spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, told The AP. Even signs along the Utah portion of the road have been chainsawed off by thieves.

Transportation officials say new U.S. 491 signs are on the way. Meanwhile, those who want a little devil in their life can find at least one of the signs on eBay, although, according to the seller, it was not from the actual road.

U.S. 666 is in the four corners region, running north along the Arizona border from I-40 to the Colorado border, and then into Utah.

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