US 285 is a US Highway in the US state of New Mexico. The road forms a long north-south route across the state, from the Texas border in the southeast through Carlsbad, Artesia, Roswell, and Santa Fe to the Colorado border. Much of the route in southern New Mexico has been expanded with 2×2 lanes. The road is 645 kilometers long.
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US 285 in eastern New Mexico.
South of Malaga, US 285 in Texas enters New Mexico from Pecos as a single-lane trunk road. One passes through a desolate steppe area at an altitude of about 900 meters. The road then runs for 50 kilometers to Carlsbad, a regional town with 27,000 inhabitants. Here you cross the US 62 and US 180, which converge here. The road then runs north along the Pecos River, and has 2×2 lanes. After about 60 kilometers you reach Artesia, a regional town with 11,000 inhabitants. One crosses the US 82 . here, the east-west route from Alamogordo to Lubbock. The road then follows the vast plains to the north, and after about 40 miles you reach the city of Roswell, the largest city in eastern New Mexico with a population of 45,000. West of the city is a bypass, and it crosses US 70, which runs from Alamogordo to Clovis, and US 380, which runs to Lubbock.
North of Roswell begins a long desolate stretch to I-40 of about 150 miles. This entire stretch has been expanded with 2×2 lanes. The road runs over the endless steppes, and often has the appearance of a highway, due to the few crossings. After about 150 kilometers you reach the crossroads Vaughn, where you cross the US 54, the road from Alamogordo to Santa Rosa. Then follows a short double numbering with the US 60, which runs from Socorro to Clovis. Then follows the last stretch to Interstate 40, which one crosses at Clines Corners. I-40 is an east-west highway from Albuquerque to Amarillo.
US 285 then continues for 40 miles to Interstate 25 at Santa Fe, and is the fastest route from I-40 to New Mexico’s capital. Just south of Santa Fe, US 285 merges with I-25, over which US 84 also runs. At the height of the center both roads turn off, and then run through the capital of 72,000 inhabitants. A section of highway begins on the north side of Santa Fe, which lasts until near Espanola, where US 84 and US 285 split. US 285 runs along the eastern side of the San Juan Mountains, reaching elevations of over 2,500 feet. In Tres Piedras, it crosses US 64, New Mexico’s northernmost east-west route. About 40 kilometers after that follows the border with Colorado, where theUS 285 in Colorado continues to Alamosa.
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The predecessor to US 285 is State Route 2 from Santa Fe to the Texas border and State Route 74 between the Colorado and Santa Fe borders. US 285 was added to the network in 1936. The route through New Mexico has since undergone a few minor changes, for example, the route between Artesia and Roswell ran a little more east via what is now State Route 2. Later, a 2×2 divided highway was built here, bypassing a number of villages along the Pecos River. US 285 also ran in northern New Mexico via what is now US 84, via Chama to Colorado.
By 1930 a somewhat longer stretch in southeastern New Mexico had already been paved between Roswell and Carlsbad, at the time this was the first paved road in the wide southeastern part of New Mexico. Also, the road around Santa Fe was paved. By 1937, the section between Carlsbad and the Texas border had also been paved. In the late 1930s, the Santa Fe to Roswell section was rapidly paved. The northernmost portion of the route, former State Route 74 between the Colorado and Santa Fe borders, was not paved until the first half of the 1950s.
Later, large parts of US 285 were widened to a 2×2 divided highway, including almost the entire route between Santa Fe and the Texas border. First, in the 1960s, a fairly short section on the south side of Artesia was widened to 2×2 lanes. However, most of the route was widened to 2×2 lanes a bit later in the late 1990s between Roswell and Artesia, as well as the missing section between Artesia and Carlsbad. Presumably around 2000, the 150-kilometer stretch from Vaughn to Roswell was also widened to 2×2 lanes. The section between I-40 and Vaughn followed around 2005.
US 285 is not very busy, despite its importance on the road network. Some 1,300 vehicles cross the Texas border every day, rising to 5,000 in Carlsbad. Between Carlsbad and Artesia it increases from 4800 to 7500 vehicles, and 5500 to 9700 in Roswell. North of Roswell to I-40, 2,500 vehicles drive, and 1,600 to 11,400 to I-25. The dual numbering with I-25 counts 25,000 vehicles, and 35,000 vehicles through Santa Fe. Further north, the intensities drop to about 1,100 vehicles.