US 70 is a US Highway in the US state of New Mexico. The road forms an east-west route through the south and center of the state, from the Arizona border through Lordsburg, Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Roswell, and Clovis to the Texas border. Part of the route is double -numbered with other roads, most notably Interstate 10, US 180, and US 380. The road is 730 kilometers long.
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US 70 at Las Cruces.
US 70 between Hondo and Roswell.
Near the village of Virden, US 70 in Arizona from Globe enters the state of New Mexico in a mountainous desert region. The road runs at 1200 meters for 50 kilometers to the southeast, to the town of Lordsburg. At Lordsburg, US 70 merges with Interstate 10, the highway from Tucson to El Paso. This double numbering with I-10 lasts until Las Cruces, 175 kilometers to the east. The I-10 leads through a desolate steppe area with few intersecting roads to Deming, 100 kilometers to the east. The highway actually has only one bend over this distance. The US 180. also joins Demingout of Silver City. The road then leads to Las Cruces, a larger city with 90,000 inhabitants. On the west side of Las Cruces, US 70 exits from I-10, then heads into town. I-10 and US 180 then continue together to El Paso. On the north side of Las Cruces, one crosses Interstate 25, the highway to Albuquerque in the north.
After Las Cruces, US 70 is a 2×2 trunk road to Alamogordo, 100 miles northeast. The road has virtually no intersections and looks like a highway. The road goes over the San Augustin Pass, and passes through the White Sands Missile Range, an army testing ground. You pass the White Sands National Monument, a dune area that consists of stark white sand. Then you pass Holloman Air Force Base, and you reach the city of Alamogordo. Here, US 70 merges with US 54, which comes from El Paso. Both roads are then double-numbered for about 20 kilometers, and have 2×2 lanes. US 82. begins on the north side of Alamogordo, the road to Artesia in the east. A little further on, US 70 turns northeast, and US 54 continues only to Santa Rosa in the north. US 70 then passes through the Capitan Mountains, and has 2×2 lanes for a while. The road rises to 2200 meters, and the mountain peaks reach over 3500 meters.
At Hondo, US 70 merges with US 380, which comes from Socorro. Both roads are then double-numbered until Roswell, 70 kilometers to the east, and have 2×2 lanes. One then passes over a plateau with many small differences in height and shallow canyons. One then reaches Roswell, a larger city with 45,000 inhabitants, one of the larger cities in the outback of New Mexico. US 70 then goes through the town’s western bypass, while US 380 continues straight to Lubbock. One therefore crosses US 285, the north-south route from Santa Fe to Carlsbad.
US 70 then runs 2×2 lanes northeast, across a deserted plateau to Clovis, 180 kilometers away. One crosses the River Pecos here, and the road looks like a highway, due to the presence of a central reservation, emergency lanes and the widely spaced intersections. On the route to Clovis one only passes through three towns, Portales being the largest. At Clovis, US 70 merges with US 60 and US 84 coming from the west. A little further on, at Texico on the Texas border, the roads split again, with US 60 running to Amarillo, and US 70 running in Texas towards Lubbock.
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US 70 was created in 1926. The route was then temporarily changed in New Mexico between 1932 and 1934 when US 70 ended in El Paso, and ran between El Paso and Alamogordo over current US 54. Since then, the route has remained unchanged. US 70, combined with I-10, is southern New Mexico’s main east-west route, and the entire route is designed as a 2×2 lane divided highway.
By 1931, a long stretch of asphalt between the Arizona border and Las Cruces had already been paved. This also coincided with US 80. Further east, part of the route from Roswell to the northeast was paved. During the 1930s, large parts of the route in eastern New Mexico were asphalted, by 1935 almost half of the route between Las Cruces and Clovis was asphalted and by 1940 the entire route was asphalted.
As early as the 1960s, the first sections were widened to 2×2 lanes, such as from Las Cruces to White Sands, west and north of Alamogordo and south of Clovis. In the 1970s and 1980s, the section between Las Cruces and Alamogordo was widened to 2×2 lanes for a total of 100 kilometers. In the late 1990s or around 2000, the 150km stretch from Roswell to Portales was widened to 2×2 lanes. Around 2004-2005, the section between Mescalero and Roswell was widened to 2×2 lanes, turning the entire US 70 east of Las Cruces into a 2×2 divided highway. In 2002-2003 the section between Las Cruces and Organ was made grade separated, turning it into a freeway. This is the only freeway stretch of a US Highway in New Mexico.
The road is generally not too busy, but it is an important route for through traffic. Only 700 vehicles cross the border into Arizona every day, increasing to 2,500 at Lordsburg. The double numbering with the I-10 has 12,000 to 18,000 vehicles, and 7,000 vehicles drive between Las Cruces and Alamogordo. Towards Roswell it first drops to 4000 vehicles, then climbs to 5000 for Roswell. The 2×2 section from Roswell to Clovis has 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles, and 12,000 vehicles in Portales. The last piece before the border with Texas has 13,000 vehicles.