Interstate 40 is a major east-west freeway, spanning eight states. Estimates indicate that millions of vehicles travel I-40 annually, of which more than half are heavy commercial vehicles carrying goods and services. Many of those vehicles use exit 39, just west of Gallup. The immediate area is home to a refinery and a travel center, making it one of the busiest interchanges in the western part of the state.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation identified this segment of I-40 and the Interchange for reconstruction because of physical deficiencies, poor levels of service with current traffic volumes and safety concerns. NMDOT divided the project into three phases to minimize impacts to traffic and enable contractors and subcontractors to work concurrently. Work on the first phase began in June 2018 and included bridge rehabilitation, ramp reconstruction, construction of acceleration and deceleration lanes at the interchange ramps and reconstruction of eastbound I-40. NMDOT worked to develop an aggressive work schedule to ease congestion at the interchange and minimize delays. Crews worked 24-hour shifts, six days per week until they completed phase one in October 2019. Phase two will begin in March 2020 and will include reconstruction of the westbound lanes and construction of a truck climbing lane. Phase three will begin in spring 2021 and will include reconstruction of both east and westbound I-40, west of the interchange. The project design will ease congestion at the interchange and provide a safe means for travelers and commercial vehicles to exit and enter the interstate. It will yield significant economic and quality of life benefits to area businesses and travelers alike. The Federal Highway Administration and NMDOT funded the project at a total cost of $46.2 million.