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Route 666 May Lose Its Devilish Designation

January 26, 2003|From Reuters

SANTA FE, N.M. — Hey Satan, the governor of New Mexico has a message for you: Get off the road.

Gov. Bill Richardson said this week that he wants to renovate one of the most dangerous roads in the state, which is known by locals as the "Devil's Highway," "Satan's Highway" and "Highway to Hell."

And Richardson wants to change the number of the route officially known as Highway 666 because of the association of the triple sixes with Satan.

Highway 666 runs north-south for about 160 miles in the northwestern part of the state, mostly through an American Indian reservation, connecting the towns of Gallup and Shiprock.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday February 01, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 7 inches; 262 words Type of Material: Correction
Devil's Highway -- A Reuters wire article in Section A on Sunday said that Highway 666, sometimes called the Devil's Highway, runs 160 miles across New Mexico. In fact, the road covers 108 miles in the state.

"I am proud to announce my wholehearted support for the renovation of Highway 666 -- a name we are working to change," Richardson told the New Mexico Legislature last week.

Rhonda Faught, the secretary of Transportation for the state, said her office will apply to federal authorities for a name change for the road.

The highway that rolls through mountain valleys has some of the highest fatalities per mile of any road in New Mexico because of its poor condition.

It is mostly a bumpy, two-lane road, which has been expanded to four lanes in some parts. It attracts slow-moving tourists as well as speeding motorists traveling through a sparsely populated region. In 2000 and 2001, crashes on the road killed 21 people and injured 144, according to state figures.

The number 666 is called the number of the beast in the New Testament's Book of Revelation, and over the centuries the triple sixes have become associated with Satan.

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 famed road to the West called Route 66.

"It has a negative connotation. We don't want it to be associated with our state," Faught said.

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