A new Interstate highway between Texas and northern New Mexico could connect to I-25 in Raton

It might be a lot easier to drive from Texas to Colorado in the future. Recent federal legislation has opened the door to connecting Interstate 27 in North Texas to Interstate 25 in Raton, NM, just south of the Colorado border.

The new section of the highway would be part of the US Ports to Plains Corridor which goes from Mexico to Canada. It’s still in the planning stages, but Raton City Manager Scott Berry said it will help solve frequent bottlenecks.

“I think we’re going to address the safety issue on the road,” he said of US Highway 87, which is the current route that traffic is following. “It also provides economic development opportunities for our community and other communities in northeast New Mexico.”

There are different options for connection, but depending on a study done last year For the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the Council of Eastern Plains Governments, upgrading the existing road along U.S. Highways 87/64 to interstate standards would benefit agriculture, renewable energy, and tourism. It could also create some 3,400 new permanent jobs in the region.

Courtesy of Scott Berry
US Highway 87 in New Mexico near Raton Creek on a calm traffic day in late April 2022.

“Generally for Raton,” Berry said of the improved connection to I-25, “our economic development plan is built around heavy traffic on that highway.”

According to the study, improving the route to Interstate Highway standards, “traffic should increase between 1% and 2%”.

“The improvement or expansion of the corridor would not create traffic congestion along the corridor,” he continues.

The study considered two possible options for this project with estimated costs ranging between $219 million to rehabilitate the current corridor and $1.3 billion to convert the existing freeway in the corridor to a freeway.

Matt Inzeo of the Colorado Department of Transportation said in an email that based on the information they currently have, “it’s difficult to anticipate what changes we might see in Colorado at this point. Given that this area is between Colorado and our nearest shipping port in Houston, we will continue to monitor the development of this project and in particular any anticipated changes in the movement of goods.

It could be decades before anyone drives on the new Interstate Highway.

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