RATON, N.M. (KRQE) – Plans are underway for a new interstate between Texas and northern New Mexico. Not only would this project make the drive between the two states easier, but officials say it would also deliver a big economic impact to northeast New Mexico communities. 

A new interstate highway connecting I-27 in north Texas to I-25 in Raton is just what communities in northeast New Mexico have been waiting for. “This is something that we’ve advocated for, for a number of years along with other communities along the route to northeastern New Mexico,” said Raton City Manager Scott Berry

U.S HWY 64 and 87 at the Texas-New Mexico state line are the current routes traffic follows but they can sometimes be dangerous and crowded. The new section of interstate would be part of the U.S. ports-to-plains corridor, a joint effort between New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma to secure federal funding for developing and improving roads. 

The NMDOT says it would help ease congestion, boost the economy and create around 34,000 jobs. “This opens up a lot of potential new businesses. I think entrepreneurs and businesses out there would look for this type of opportunity because of the strategic location Raton has between Texas and Colorado,” says Berry. 

Smaller communities in northern New Mexico could also see a big improvement when it comes to safety and reducing crash rates in the area. “I think the biggest thing is that it largely bypasses the main streets of small communities. So Clayton would have a significant impact with bypass and there are several options as identified in the study for that.”

There are two different price tags for the project. $219-million dollars to rehab the current corridor or $1.3 billion dollars to convert the existing highway into an interstate. The next step is to conduct more studies to identify phases, costs and connections to I-25.