Mexico Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

According to wholevehicles, Mexico had 390,301 kilometers of road in 2015, of which 156,797 kilometers (40.2%) were paved. This is by far the largest paved road network in Latin America. Mexico has 15,252 kilometers of 2×2 lane road, a significant portion of which are full-fledged highways.

The road network is subdivided into types. The largest part of the road network consists of conventional carreteras and are main roads with 2 lanes and possibly an emergency lane. Four-lane or multi-lane roads are known as autopista, but do not always have completely grade separated intersections, sometimes there are country roads that connect at ground level to the highway. The maximum speed is usually 110 km/h. The total network of 2×2 roads covers more than 15,000 kilometers, of which more than half is a full-fledged autopista. The rest consists of regular 2×2 roads that are highway-like, but have too many uncontrolled connections to really be called a highway. Almost all full-fledged highways are toll roads. All major transportation corridors in the center and north of the country have 2×2 lanes, for example, two 2×2 routes can travel from Mexico City to the United States, but not all segments are highways.

The highways are largely toll roads (autopistas de cuota). The rest are toll-free roads (Carreteras libres). Most toll roads are quite expensive, at 9 to 18 cents per kilometer. The main road network consists of Federal roads. Most major cities have ring roads (Periféricos) or bypasses (Libramientos). The road numbering consists of one, two and three digit roads. Toll roads usually run alongside a toll-free route with the same number. A toll road then gets a D after the number, for example MX 150D. The road network is generally moderately maintained. Especially in mountainous areas, the highways are dangerous because of the enormous differences in height and sharp bends. This is especially common between Puebla and Veracruz, between Mexico City and Cuernavaca, and between Tijuana and Mexicali.

In addition, some areas have single-lane toll roads (supercarreteras). These roads are of high quality, with emergency lanes, grade-separated connections and a new, high-quality route. Overtaking is usually allowed, but there are no 2×2 lanes. These toll roads are mainly located in the southern states where traffic is too limited for a full-fledged 2×2 autopista.

Pavement type

Road type Length
asphalted 156,797 km
gravel 152,879 km
improved dirt road 11,231 km
dirt road 69,394 km

Toll roads

Type Length
2×2 lanes (autopista) 6.265 km
1×2 lanes (supercarretera) 3,399 km

Toll-Free Federal Roads

The Carreteras Federated in Mexico.

Type Length
2×2 lanes 6,539 km
1×2 lanes 34,200 km

Typing away

Type Length
Carreteras Federals (Federal Roads) 40,812 km
Autopistas Federals (Federal Motorways) 9,174 km
Carreteras estatales (state roads) 85,076 km
Caminos rurales (country roads) 156,044 km
Brechas Mejoradas (Unimproved Roads) 74,550 km

Carretera federal

The Carretera Federal (Federal Road) is the main road network of Mexico. They connect all the larger places of the country with each other. The network of Carreteras Federals is more than 40,000 kilometers long and is relatively well developed, important corridors have been constructed with 2×2 lanes or replaced by parallel autopistas. The autopistas belong to the carreteras Federals and are included in the national road numbering system.

The build quality of the Carreteras Federals differs. On the plateau in northern Mexico, the population density is low and people get along well. In the mountainous south, the roads are more winding and go through more places. Almost all larger cities have a bypass (libramiento) or ring road (periférico). Carreteras Federals regularly have grade separated intersections, even outside the autopista network.

Careers federals in Mexico
1 2 • 3 • 5 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 12 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18 • 19 • 22 • 23 • 24 • 25 • 29 • 30 • 34 • 35 • 37 • 40 • 41 • 43 • 44 • 4549 • 51 • 53 • 54 • 55 • 57 • 58 • 61 • 62 • 63 • 68 • 69 • 70 • 71 • 72 • 76 • 80 • 81 • 83 • 84 • 85 • 87 • 90 • 93 • 95 • 97 • 98101 • 102 • 103 • 105 • 106 • 110 • 111 • 113 • 115 • 117 • 119 • 120 • 121 • 123 • 125 • 126 • 127 • 129 • 130 • 131 • 132 • 134 • 135 • 136 • 138 • 140 • 142• 144 • 145 • 147 • 150 • 160 • 162 • 166 • 172 • 175 • 176 • 178 • 179 • 180 • 182 • 184 • 185 • 186 • 187 • 188 • 190 • 193 • 195 • 196 • 198 • 199 • 200 •203 • 211 • 225 • 259 • 261 • 281 • 293 • 295 • 307

History

The Carretera Federal 40 near Torreón.

As early as the 1950s, the first highway-like roads in Mexico City were built, namely the Periférico Anillo, the Viaducto Miguel Alemán and the Circuito Interior. The first interurban highways were opened in the 1960s. These are the Autopista Mexico – Puebla and Autopista Puebla – Orizaba, the Autopista Mexico – Querétaro and the Autopista Mexico – Cuernavaca. These are all located in the center of the country. Also in the 1960s, the Autopista Tijuana – Ensenada was opened in the northwest.

In the 1970s and 1980s virtually no highways were built in Mexico, the second wave of highway construction followed from about 1989 and continued until the late 1990s. Nearly all of Mexico’s highways were built during that time. After 2000, highways were still being built, and these mainly concern bypasses, the so-called “Libramentos”.

Toll

Virtually all highways are toll roads. Characteristic of the Mexican toll roads are the long distances between connections (up to 80 kilometers) and the fact that all highways have an open toll system, where you have to pay a toll after every few turns. Because the exits are often far apart, the density of the toll stations is not extremely high, but there are few routes where the toll stations are more than 100 kilometers apart. The toll stations are often located near exits, so that all through and exit traffic pays at one toll station. A toll road is called a carretera de cuota, and a toll plaza is called a casseta. Tolls are relatively high, higher than in the United States.

autopistas

Autopistas in Mexico
Tijuana – Ensenada • Tijuana – Mexicali • Reynosa – Matamoros • Lib. Morelia • Mexico – Toluca • Mexico – Guadalajara • Macrolibramiento de Guadalajara • Guadalajara – Tepic • Tepic – Mazatlán • Mazatlán – Culiacán • Periférico Chihuahua • Chihuahua – Cuauhtémoc • Durango – Mazatlán • Durango – Torrerey • Saltilloón – Monterillo • – Oriente Monterrey • Lib. Monterrey • Monterrey – Reynosa • Macrolib. Quéretaro • Querétaro – Irapuato • Irapuato – León • Salamanca – León • León – Aguascalientes • Lib. Oriente de Chihuahua • Guadalajara – Colima • Arco Norte • Chimalhuacan – Huehuetoca • Mexico – Querétaro • Lib. Querétaro • Querétaro – San Luis Potosí • Lib. San Luis Potosi • Lib. Matehuala • Lib. Saltillo • Sabinas – Allende • Guadalajara – Lagos de Moreno • Periférico San Luis Potosí • Mexico – Tizayuca • Monterrey – Nuevo Laredo • Mexico – Cuernavaca • Cuernavaca – Acapulco • Libramiento de Irapuato • Libramiento Norte de La Piedad • Tlaxcala – Texmelucan Tbla Tcallaxcalae • Libramiento • México – Tuxpan • Autopista Naucalpan – Toluca • Tehuacán – Oaxaca • Puebla – Perote • Perote – Xalapa • Lib. xalapa • Córdoba – Minatitlán • Malpasito – Tuxtla Gutiérrez • Mexico – Puebla Puebla – Orizaba • Orizaba – Veracruz • Autopista La Pera – Cuautla • Tuxpan – Tampico • Cardel – Veracruz • Agua Dulce – Cárdenas • lib. Villahermosa • Campeche – Champotón • lib. Campeche • Mérida – Cancún • Salina Cruz – La Ventosa • Mitla – Tehuantepec • Arriaga – Ocozocoautla • Tuxtla Gutiérrez – San Cristóbal • Libramiento de Acapulco • Ahuacatlán – Puerto Vallarta • Manzanillo – Colima

Road management

The federal roads are managed by the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT). Mexico is the only Latin American country where the term “ministerio” is not used, but “secretaría” (secretariat). The secretariat has its origins in the Secretaría de Comunicaciones which was founded in 1891. In 1958 the secretariat was given its current name. The toll roads are managed by a concessionaire.

Maximum speed

The Carretera Federal 30 in Coahuila with a maximum speed of 110 km/h.

In Mexico, only a distinction is made between built-up and non-built-up areas. Unless otherwise stated, the maximum speed for passenger cars is 50 km/h in built-up areas and 100 to 110 km/h outside built-up areas. At night it is not allowed to drive faster than 90 km/h outside built-up areas. For freight traffic 80 km/h applies outside built-up areas (70 km/h at night). Driving on autopistas is allowed up to 110 km/h.

Road numbering

The roads of Mexico consist of two primary layers, the carreteras federals and the carreteras estatales. The Carreteras Federals connect all of Mexico’s larger towns, as well as most of the smaller towns. The road numbering increases from northwest to southeast, from 1 to 307, although numbers are frequently skipped. This numbering forms one system, so higher numbers are not necessarily less important than lower numbers. The length of these roads varies from less than 50 kilometers to more than 2,000 kilometers. In theory numbers ending in 0 or 5 are more important, but in practice that is not always the case.

Road numbers of the carreteras Federals are usually indicated, although some more secondary routes are usually not signposted with a road number, or with the road number of another intersecting route. Therefore, navigating on road numbers in Mexico is quite difficult off the main roads. In addition, toll roads are signposted with the suffix “D” below the number.

Signage in Mexico.

State highways are often, but not always, marked. The practice of this varies by state. The numbering is also determined by state. Nuevo León was the first state to use alphanumeric road numbering around Monterrey starting in 2007. It is common for state roads to use a number plate, but not a number. State roads are almost always secondary in character.

Signage

The signage is moderate, but usually present. The layout is still very simple. Green signposts with white letters are used, often with very large capital letters.

Mexico Road Network