Route 66.

U.S. 666 Bedeviled

New Mexico's governor Bill Richardson, back from an unscheduled visit to North "Axis of Evil" Korea, has told New Mexico's legislature of his "wholehearted support for the renovation of Highway 666," according to a report by the Reuters and Associated Press news services. U.S. 666 runs north-south for about 160 miles in the northwestern corner of the state, connecting the towns of Gallup and Shiprock.

Whether the renovation will include actual physical improvement to the road is unclear. Richardson said that U.S. 666 is "a name we are working to change," a statement that drew applause from the legislature and that was echoed by Rhonda Faught, the state's secretary of transportation. "It has a negative connotation," she explained. "We don't want it to be associated with our state. It discourages tourism and economic development in the area." She added that her office was applying to federal authorities for a name change for the road.

It was not reported what tourism and economic development was discouraged by the name of the road. We suspect they haven't really thought this through very carefully. We also don't know whether the neighboring states of Colorado and Utah, who share a portion of Rt. 666, will succumb to the same numerological zeal.

The highway received the 666 designation in 1942. U.S. highway authorities gave it that number because it was the sixth major highway to branch off of the famous U.S. 66.

Known by locals as the "Devil's Highway," "Satan's Highway,""Highway to Hell," "Asphalt Inferno," "Beelzebub Boulevard," and "Pointy Tale's Parkway to Perdition," U.S. 666 is reportedly one of the most dangerous roads in New Mexico. That may be due to its poor maintenance and to brain-dead drivers, but changing the name of the road will free it of the influence of the Evil One, an example of bold government in action.

Update: US 666 is no more; it's been renumbered US 491. Take that, Satan!

US Hwy 491, Gallup, NM
I-40 exit 20, then drive north a quarter-mile. The sign is attached to a light pole on the northbound side, just past the McDonald's.
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