Heavy equipment and 400 highway workers are taking over the city of Albuquerque, N.M., preparing for a $286 million reconstruction project on one of the major crossroads of the West.
The work begins today, and with it comes two years of mayhem at the intersection of Interstates 25 and 40 known as the "Big I."
According to the Associated Press, more than 300,000 vehicles will have to find alternate routes each day during the construction. The interchange involves one of the country's most heavily traveled north-south corridors: I-25 connects Albuquerque, Denver, Cheyenne and Casper, Wyo., and Billings, Mont. I-40, running from Wilmington, N.C., to Barstow, Calif., was created with the decommissioning of legendary Route 66.
The interchange was designed to handle 14.6 million vehicles a year in 1965, but carries 100 million today. The new design will increase capacity to 150 million. When the construction is complete, 55 ramps and bridges will criss-cross nearly eight square miles with 111 miles of traffic lanes.
During construction, traffic will be restricted to two lanes each way by day, and there also will be nightly closings.