New Mexico/Highway Classification

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This is a draft proposal based on the 2021 Highway Classification Guidance to replace the minimal road tagging guidance. It is based on discussions on Talk-us: US Trunk road tagging and the OSMUS Slack. Feel free to discuss or help edit this content prior to any inclusion on New Mexico.


New Mexico does not maintain its own highway classification scheme, instead assigning functional classification to state routes according to the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Functional Classification Guidelines. As the FHWA functional classification does not directly align with OpenStreetMap's (OSM) highway classification, the local mapping community has assigned classification on its own. This document aims to document the highway classification norms used in this state and promote consistency in tagging of the highway network by developing a state-specific highway classification standard that is compatible with the standards already proposed in neighboring states.

These definitions reference various tags under the place=* key. As OSM's definitions of place is broad, a state-specific criteria for assigning place values would be useful for implementing this standard.


See United_States/2021_Highway_Classification_Guidance#Motorway


A classification-agnostic tag, expressway=yes indicates that a highway has some motorway-like characteristics, but is not a motorway. At minimum, expressways will have the following characteristics:

  • At least two lanes of traffic in each direction
  • Designed and maintained to support high speeds over long distances
  • Limited interruption in traffic flow due to at-grade intersections

In cities and towns, expressways have the following additional requirements:

  • Divided carriageways
  • Business access by frontage road only

This tag should not be used on highway=motorway, as it is implied. For highway=trunk, expressway=no should be used for roads that are not expressway in addition to expressway=yes for trunk roads that are expressways. No expressway status is implied for trunk roads. For highway=primary and lower, expressway=no is implied; only expressway=yes should be used when the road is an expressway.


As the top non-motorway classification, highway=trunk connects any place=city not served by the interstate system to other cities and the interstate system. On a case-by-case basis, the mapping community may decide to include other significant locales in the trunk network. In areas underserved by the interstate system, trunk roads may carry considerable through traffic, forming an important part of the national highway network.

This classification is intended for roads linking population centers. Important roads within a population center should be tagged as highway=primary or highway=secondary.

The following should be taken into consideration when defining a route in the trunk network:

  • Higher traffic volume than the surrounding primary network
  • Higher speed limits than the surrounding primary network
  • Roads built to a higher standard than the surrounding primary network
  • Bypasses congested areas

Previously, the trunk classification was used in place of expressway=yes. It is expected that many trunk roads in New Mexico will be expressways. However, for historical reasons, expressway=no should be applied to trunk roads that are not expressways, but not for any other classification.


As the second highest non-motorway classification, highway=primary connects any place=town not served by a higher-level highway, and should be used for any business loop of an interstate highway. In addition, this classification should be used for less-important alternative routes to inter-city connections tagged highway=motorway|trunk but more important than highway=secondary. In cities, this classification may be used for regionally-significant urban routes that traverse most or all of the city.


As the third highest non-motorway classification, highway=secondary connects any place=village not served by a higher-level highway. In some cases, it can also provide connectivity to a small place=town as a spur from a nearby highway=primary or higher that does not go directly through the town. Additionally, this classification should be applied in the following cases:

  • A road that is a minor arterial road.
  • Most urban arterial roads
  • A road that is a very major collector road.
  • A minor road that connects very small populations, primary roads, or other secondary roads. It is often that they are not traveled frequently.


highway=tertiary connects any place=hamlet or place=neighbourhood not served by a higher-level highway. In some cases, it can also provide connectivity to a small place=village as a spur from a nearby highway=secondary or higher that does not go directly through the village. This classification can apply to most collector roads and roads that connect major amenities, such as shops and schools, to the rest of the road network.


As the least important classification in the interconnecting road network, highway=unclassified does not exist for the sole purpose of providing access to homes or business, making it slightly more important than highway=residential, but considerably less important than highway=tertiary. These roads connect insignificant locales such as ranches. In some cases, they simply provide access to highway=track. This classification is sometimes used for roads that go through a residential area, but should not be tagged as highway=tertiary.



Important Regional Centers

Important Regional Centers are destinations of high importance to the state highway network, based on factors such as population, connecting routes, and local attractions, which contribute to a considerably higher traffic volume on the principal route into the regional center than the surrounding primary highway network. Many of the same factors leading to the classification of city apply here, but with a greater emphasis on the impact to traffic volume. Therefore, while most regional centers will be cities, some will not.

All in-state cities are considered Important Regional Centers. For this proposal, a city is considered the urban core of any Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or Micropolitan Statistical Area (μSA) that is not part of a Combined Statistical Area (CSA) that contains a MSA. If the μSA in question is part of a CSA that does not contain a MSA, then the largest μSA in that CSA shall be considered a city. Generally, trunks serving μSAs exist to connect them to larger cities (MSAs or CSAs).

Out-of-state Important Regional Centers are cities located on trunk roads leaving the state that are either significant to the New Mexico road network, or terminals of trunk routes. Generally, they are chosen with the goal of harmonizing this proposal with other states' proposals.

In-state Cities
  • Alamogordo
  • Albuquerque
  • Carlsbad
  • Clovis
  • Deming
  • Farmington
  • Gallup
  • Hobbs
  • Las Cruces
  • Roswell
  • Santa Fe
  • Silver City
  • Taos
Other In-state Important Regional Centers

The following destinations are not cities, but are considered Important Regional Centers due to regional significance and traffic volume:

  • Los Alamos
  • Lovington
Out-of-state Cities and Towns
  • Alamosa, CO
  • Amarillo, TX
  • Durango, CO
  • El Paso, TX
  • Lubbock, TX
  • Odessa, TX
  • Saint George, UT
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Wichita, KS
  • Window Rock, AZ

Route Roster

Destinations in bold are regional centers.
From To Trunk Routing Notes
Bernalillo, I 25 Exit 242 Durango, CO US 550 Connects Albuquerque to Farmington and Durango via I 25.
Santa Fe, I 25 Exit 276 Santa Fe, Jct. US 285/US 84 NM 599 The Santa Fe Relief Route, this is trunk in lieu of US 285 through Santa Fe.
Pecos, TX Alamosa, CO US 285 Saint Francis Drive in Santa Fe is primary. Connects to Odessa via I 20.
Espanola Taos NM 68 Connects Santa Fe to Taos via US 285.
Espanola Los Alamos NM 502 Connects Santa Fe to Los Alamos via US 285.
Shiprock Saint George, UT US 64 Connects Farmington to Saint George. Trunk routing follows portions of US 160, US 89, and US 89A in Arizona and Utah.
Gallup Salt Lake City, UT US 491 Also connects Albuquerque and Farmington to Salt Lake City via US 550 and US 64. Follows portions of US 191 and I 70 in Utah.
Gallup Window Rock, AZ US 491/NM 264/AZ 264
Raton Amarillo, TX US 87 Connects Amarillo to Pueblo and Colorado Springs via I 25.
Clayton Tulsa, OK US 412 Connects Tulsa to Pueblo and Colorado Springs via I 25.
Tucumcari, I 40 Exit 333 Wichita, KS US 54 Connects Albuquerque to Wichita via I 40.
Las Cruces Clovis US 70 Primary between I 10 and I 25. Motorway from Jct. I 25 to Organ.
El Paso, TX Lubbock, TX US 62
El Paso, TX Alamogordo US 54
Santa Rosa Lubbock, TX US 84 Connects Albuquerque to Clovis and Lubbock via I 40.
Clovis Amarillo, TX US 60
Lovington Hobbs NM 18
Deming Silver City US 180


This is a place for proposals for the various urban areas throughout the state.

Albuquerque Metro

The entire Albuquerque Metropolitan Area should be considered a single population center. This includes all of Bernalillo County, Rio Rancho, and Los Lunas.


There are three motorways in Albuquerque:

  • Interstate 25,
  • Interstate 40,
  • NM 423 / Paseo del Norte.

Albuquerque should consider adopting the tag suburban=yes from New York's proposal for Paseo del Norte and any future motorways built to carry primarily intra-city traffic.


Since the Interstates carry most of Albuquerque's inter-city traffic, this tag should be used sparingly. Urban expressways and major thoroughfares should use highway=primary with expressway=yes where applicable. Currently, the only trunk in the metro area should be:

  • US 550.

All other highways currently tagged as trunk should be downgraded to highway=primary.


Thoroughfares that efficiently make long-haul connections across the metropolitan area should be tagged as highway=primary. As a general rule, this applies to most numbered highways and roads crossing the the Rio Grande. Some routes may also have expressway=yes. The following routes should be primary:

  • NM 47
  • NM 556 / Tramway Boulevard
  • NM 45 / Coors Boulevard
  • Non-motorway portions of NM 423 / Paseo del Norte
  • NM 500 / Rio Bravo Boulevard between Coors Boulevard Southwest and Interstate 25
  • Sunport Boulevard
  • NM 528 / Alameda Boulevard / Pat D'Arco Highway
  • Central Avenue
  • Lomas Boulevard between Central Avenue and Interstate 25
  • Montano Road between NM 45/ Coors Boulevard and NM 556 / Tramway Boulevard
  • NM 6
  • NM 14


Most major arterials that are not given a higher classification should be secondary. Status quo.