Interstate 40 in Arizona

Interstate 40 (I-40) is an eastwest Interstate Highway that has a 359.11-mile (577.93 km) section in the U.S. state of Arizona, connecting sections in California and New Mexico. The section throughout the entire route in Arizona is also known as the Purple Heart Trail to honor those wounded in combat who have received the Purple Heart.[2] It enters Arizona from the west at a crossing of the Colorado River southwest of Kingman. It travels eastward across the northern portion of the state connecting the cities of Kingman, Ash Fork, Williams, Flagstaff, Winslow, and Holbrook. I-40 continues into New Mexico, heading to Albuquerque. The highway has major junctions with U.S. Route 93 (US 93) — the main highway connecting Phoenix and Las Vegas, Nevada — in Kingman and again approximately 22 miles (35 km) to the east and Interstate 17 — the freeway linking Phoenix to northern Arizona — in Flagstaff.

Interstate 40
Purple Heart Trail
I-40 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by ADOT
Length359.11 mi[1] (577.93 km)
Major junctions
West end I-40 at California state line
East end I-40 at New Mexico state line
CountiesMohave, Yavapai, Coconino, Navajo, Apache
Highway system
  • Arizona State Highway System
SR 30SR 50

For the majority of its routing through Arizona, I-40 follows the historic alignment of U.S. Route 66. The lone exception is a stretch between Kingman and Ash Fork where US 66 took a more northerly, less direct route that is now State Route 66. Construction of I-40 was ongoing in the 1960s and 1970s and reached completion in 1984. With the completion of I-40 in 1984, the entire routing of US 66 had been bypassed by Interstate Highways which led to its decertification a year later in 1985.

Route description

California to Flagstaff

I-40 enters Arizona from California at a bridge that crosses the Colorado River at Topock in Mohave County. It heads east from Topock and begins to curve towards the north at Franconia, completing the curve at Yucca. The interstate continues to head north until it reaches Kingman. In this city, I-40 has a junction with US 93 at exit 48. US 93 heads towards the northwest from this interchange to Hoover Dam and Las Vegas. US 93 south begins to run concurrently with I-40 east as they both swing eastward through Kingman. The two later separate at exit 71, as US 93 heads towards the south towards Phoenix while I-40 continues east toward Flagstaff. Along the way, I-40 passes through the town of Seligman, then at Ash Fork it meets State Route 89, the former U.S. Highway that heads south to Prescott. Next, it passes through Williams, where it has an interchange with SR 64 (exit 165), which heads north towards Grand Canyon National Park. I-40 continues to the east to Flagstaff, where it has a major junction with I-17 at exit 195. I-17 heads south from this interchange to Phoenix.[1]

Flagstaff to New Mexico

East of Flagstaff, I-40 heads towards the east-southeast direction as it goes through the town of Winslow. It continues towards this direction until it reaches Holbrook, where it curves towards the northeast. Along this stretch, it passes through Petrified Forest National Park and continues to the northeast, passing through Chambers, and enters the Navajo Nation. The highway still continues to the northeast to the New Mexico border southwest of Gallup, New Mexico as it continues on towards Albuquerque.[1]


With the exception of a stretch between Kingman and Flagstaff, I-40 directly replaced the famed US 66 across northern Arizona. Where possible, US 66 was upgraded to Interstate standards to become I-40 directly. Exceptions to this were through the central business districts of the cities and towns that US 66 passed through, and I-40 had to be built as a bypass outside the cities. On October 26, 1984, after the last section of I-40 was completed in Williams, US 66 was removed from the state highway system of Arizona. The portions through cities that did not overlap I-40 would become business loops of I-40.[3]

Before the U.S. Highways

The routing of a road near the current corridor of I-40 in Arizona was first surveyed and built between 1857 and 1859. Lt. Edward Beale and his soldiers built the road along the 35th parallel that would come to be known as the Beale Wagon Road from Fort Smith, Arkansas to the Colorado River to serve as a military wagon road. The road was a popular route for immigrants during the 1860s and 1870s until the transcontinental railroad was built across northern Arizona in the 1880s. In the early 1900s, the road became part of the National Old Trails Road, a transcontinental route from Baltimore, Maryland to California, and the National Park to Park Highway, an auto trail linking the national parks of the west.[4]

U.S. Route 66

In the 1920s, as a nationwide system of highways called the United States Numbered Highways was being developed, the route through was given the designation of U.S. Route 60. This designation was controversial since designations that are multiples of 10 are assigned to transcontinental eastwest routes and this route was a diagonal route from Chicago to Los Angeles. As a compromise to states east of Chicago that felt US 60 should go through their state, a different route was given the number 60, while the route from Chicago to Los Angeles was given the number 66.[5]

By 1927, the routing of US 66 through Arizona had been laid out, but none of it had been paved yet.[6] By 1935, nearly the entire route had been paved, with the lone exceptions being a short stretch northeast of Valentine and a stretch between Peach Springs and Seligman.[7] By 1938, the entire route in Arizona had been paved.[8] In 1953, US 66 was realigned between the California border and Kingman to an alignment to the southeast to avoid the mountain curves and grades of the original alignment. By 1961, several sections of the highway had been expanded to a four-lane divided highway in anticipation of the coming Interstate Highway. Four-lane sections included a section near Ash Fork, another section east of Winslow and a section east of Holbrook near the Petrified Forest National Monument.[9]


In Flagstaff, several different alternatives were considered as a potential routing of the new Interstate through the area. The alternatives consisted of a routing north of downtown, south of downtown, through downtown along the Santa Fe Railroad right-of-way near the alignment of US 66, and a more elaborate alternative of a routing above downtown on a long overpass. In January 1959, the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce recommended to the Bureau of Public Roads that the route south of downtown be used which was approved by the Flagstaff City Council and the Board of Supervisors for Coconino County. This recommendation was accepted and would become the planned routing of I-40 in Flagstaff.[10] Business owners along US 66 were opposed to this routing as it would draw motorists away from main through route of the time, US 66. As a result, they created the No By-Pass Committee and sent a proposal to the Chamber of Commerce’s Roads and Highways Committee to conduct a study of the feasibility of a route for I-40 through downtown along the Santa Fe railroad right-of-way. The Committee sent an inquiry to the railroad concerning the proposal. The railroad rejected the proposed rerouting of their main rail lines citing that it would result in worse grades than what currently exists and in order to reduce those grades, considerable lengthening of the rail line would be required.[11] With a routing through town now out of the question, the business owners along US 66 drafted a city ordinance, known as Initiative 200, that was filed with the city of Flagstaff in November 1959 to appear on the general election ballot in March 1960. The ordinance would in effect ban all new commercial businesses on I-40, all routes leading from I-40 to US 66, and the area between I-40 and US 66.[12] In a record voter turnout, voters overwhelmingly voted against the ordinance by a vote of 2,280 to 556.[13]

In 1965, the routing of I-40 west of Kingman was being reconsidered from the planned route through Needles, California to a route to the north passing through Searchlight in southern Nevada and connecting with I-15 further north of its present connection with I-15. The rationale for the proposal was that it would be an overall shorter route and would cost much less to construct.[14] The proposal was met with stiff opposition including all four U.S. senators from California and Arizona sending the Secretary of Commerce letters requesting that the routing through Needles be retained.[15] This proposal was eventually abandoned in 1966 and the routing through Needles was kept.[16]


The construction of the 360-mile (579 km) route of I-40 across Arizona took nearly 25 years to complete with the last segment being completed in 1984, much longer than the ambitious goal of finishing by 1972. By the end of 1960, 15 miles (24 km) had been completed with an additional 23 miles (37 km) being worked on.[17] In 1964, construction was still on schedule with 58 miles (93 km) complete and an additional 71 miles (114 km) under construction. Funding was becoming an issue at this time as the state lacked the available funds to stay on pace with a 1972 completion goal.[18] By 1967, Arizona had completed almost half of the highway with 155.3 miles (249.9 km) complete and another 82.4 miles (133 km) under construction.[19] In 1968, the bypass around Flagstaff was complete with three interchanges, two at each end of where US 66 split off from I-40 to enter the city and one at the I-17 interchange. An additional interchange at Butler Avenue was completed a year later.[20] One of the big improvements of I-40 over US 66 was the construction of the segment between Kingman and Ash Fork. The 94-mile (151 km) section is a more direct route between the two cities and travels as far as 20 miles (32 km) south of the US 66 alignment, bypassing Hackberry and Peach Springs and creating ghost towns. Construction of the $69.1 million segment was also to be a much safer route as the US 66 alignment had one of the highest fatality rates of any section of highway in Arizona. This section of the Interstate was complete in 1975.[21] Construction of the $7.7 million bypass around Winslow began in 1977.[22] I-40 was completed in Arizona in 1984, with the completion of a 6-mile (10 km) section in Williams.[23] This was also the last section of US 66 to be bypassed by the Interstate, which led to it being decertified by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) the following year.[24]

Exit list

Colorado River0.000.00 I-40 west Los AngelesContinuation into California
MohaveTopock0.550.891 Historic US 66 east Golden Shores, OatmanTo SR 95 north
2.994.812Needle Mountain Road
9.7915.769 SR 95 south Lake Havasu City, Parker
13.1621.1813Franconia Road
20.1432.4120Santa Fe Ranch Road
Yucca25.1940.5425Alamo RoadNo eastbound entrance
26.1842.1326Proving Ground RoadNo westbound entrance
28.7546.2728Old Trails Road
37.0359.5937Griffith Road
44.3271.3344 Historic US 66 (Shinarump Drive) / Oatman HighwayFormer US 66 east
Kingman48.8678.6348 US 93 north (Beale Street) to SR 68 west Las VegasWest end of US 93 overlap; Beale St. is former US 466
51.6983.1951Stockton Hill Road
53.0785.4153 SR 66 / Historic US 66 east (Andy Devine Avenue) Kingman Airport
59.2195.2959DW Ranch Road
66.02106.2566Blake Ranch Road
71.52115.1071 US 93 south Wickenburg, PhoenixEast end of US 93 overlap
78.90126.9879Silver Springs Road
87.01140.0387Willows Ranch Road
91.12146.6491Fort Rock Road
Yavapai95.45153.6196Cross Mountain Road
102.99165.75103Jolly Road
109.07175.53109Anvil Rock Road
Seligman120.49193.91121 SR 40 Bus. east to SR 66 / Historic US 66 Seligman, Peach SpringsFormer US 66 east
122.72197.50123 SR 40 Bus. west to SR 66 / Historic US 66 Seligman, Peach SpringsFormer US 66 west
139.28224.15139 Historic US 66 west (Crookton Road)Former US 66 west
Ash Fork144.37232.34144 SR 40 Bus. / Historic US 66 east Ash ForkFormer US 66 east
145.69234.47146 SR 89 south / SR 40 Bus. / Historic US 66 west Prescott, Ash ForkFormer US 66 west; former US 89 south
Coconino147.68237.67148County Line Road
148.57239.10149Monte Carlo Road
151.23243.38151Welch Road
157.20252.99157Devil Dog Road
Williams161.38259.72161 SR 40 Bus. / Historic US 66 east Williams, Grand Canyon National ParkFormer US 66 east; former US 89 north
162.95262.24163Williams, Grand Canyon National Park
165.41266.20165 SR 40 Bus. / Historic US 66 west / SR 64 north Williams, Grand Canyon National ParkFormer US 66 west; former US 89 south
167.09268.91167Garland Prairie Road / Circle Pines Road
Parks171.10275.36171Pittman Valley Road / Deer Farm Road
177.81286.16178Parks Road
Bellemont183.66295.57184Camp NavajoProposed interchange[25][26]
184.68297.21185Transwestern Road Bellemont
190.10305.94190A-1 Mountain Road
191.26307.80191 SR 40 Bus. / Historic US 66 eastFormer US 66 east; former US 89 north; access to United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station
192.12309.19192Flagstaff Ranch Road
Flagstaff193.47311.36194Woody Mountain RoadProposed interchange[25][26]
195 I-17 south / SR 89A to US 180 north Sedona, Phoenix, FlagstaffI-17 exits 340A-B; northern terminus of I-17
196.70316.56197Lone Tree RoadProposed interchange on new alignment east of current Lone Tree Rd. overpass[25][26]
197.86318.42198Butler Avenue
200.65322.91201 SR 40 Bus. / US 180 west (Country Club Drive) to US 89 north Flagstaff, PageWest end of US 180 overlap; eastbound signed as "US 89 north – Page" only
204.42328.98204 Historic US 66 west Walnut Canyon National MonumentFormer US 66 west
206.79332.80207Cosnino Road (CR 510C)
210.72339.12211WinonaAccess via CR 510
219.13352.66219Twin Arrows
224.60361.46225Buffalo Range Road
230.01370.17230Two Guns
233.43375.67233Meteor Crater Road
239.22384.99239Meteor City Road
244.94394.19245 SR 99 north LeuppWest end of SR 99 overlap
NavajoWinslow251.58404.88252 SR 40 Spur west / SR 99 south / Historic US 66 east (Hipkoe Drive)East end of SR 99 overlap; Former I-40 BL east
253.08407.29253North Park Drive
255.21410.72255Transcon LaneFormer I-40 BL west
257.16413.86257 SR 87 south / Historic US 66 east Payson, Second Mesa
264.18425.16264Hibbard Road
269.43433.61269Jackrabbit Road
Joseph City274.19441.27274 SR 40 Bus. / Historic US 66 east Joseph CityFormer US 66 east
276.55445.06277 SR 40 Bus. / Historic US 66 west Joseph CityFormer US 66 west
280.13450.83280Hunt Road / Geronimo Road
283.13455.65283Perkins Valley Road
Holbrook284.67458.13285 SR 40 Bus. / US 180 / Historic US 66 east (Hopi Drive) to SR 77 south Show Low, Petrified Forest National ParkEast end of US 180 overlap; Former US 66 east
286.38460.88286 SR 40 Bus. (Navajo Boulevard) / SR 77 south to US 180 east / SR 377 south Show Low, HeberWest end of SR 77 overlap; Former US 66; Historic US 66 is unsigned at this exit
289.00465.10289 SR 40 Bus. (Navajo Boulevard) / Historic US 66 westFormer US 66 west
292.32470.44292 SR 77 north Indian WellsEast end of SR 77 overlap
294.03473.20294Sun Valley Road
303.09487.78303Adamana Road
ApachePetrified Forest NP311.06500.60311Petrified Forest National Park
319.49514.17320Pinta Road
329.49530.26330McCarrell Road
Chambers333.04535.98333 US 191 north GanadoWest end of US 191 overlap
Sanders339.00545.57339 US 191 south St. JohnsEast end of US 191 overlap; former US 666 south
341.33549.32341Ortega Road
343.32552.52343Querino Road
346.05556.91346Pine Springs Road
347.65559.49348St. Anselm Road – Houck
350.85564.64351Allentown Road
354.11569.88354Hawthorne Road
357.02574.57357 BIA Route 12 north Window Rock
Lupton358.69577.26359Grants Road – Rest AreaFormer US 66 east; Rest Area not signed eastbound
359.11577.93 I-40 east AlbuquerqueContinuation into New Mexico
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also

  • Arizona portal
  • U.S. Roads portal


  1. Roadway Inventory Management Section, Multimodal Planning Division (December 31, 2008). "2008 State Highway System Log" (PDF). Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 21, 2008.
  2. "Veterans attend re-naming of I-40 as 'Purple Heart Trail'". Prescott Valley Tribune. Western News & Info. September 28, 2004. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  3. Arizona Department of Transportation (1984-10-26). "ADOT Right-of-Way Resolutions 1984-10-A-064, 1984-10-A-065, 1984-10-A-066, 1984-10-A-067". Retrieved 2008-04-21.
  4. Arizona Department of Transportation. "Good Roads Everywhere: A History of Road Building in Arizona". Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  5. Weingroff, Richard. "From Names to Numbers: The Origins of the U.S. Numbered Highway System". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  6. Auto Road Map of Arizona and New Mexico (Map). Rand McNally. 1927. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  7. Road Map of Arizona (Map). Arizona State Highway Department. 1935. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  8. Auto Road Map of Arizona and New Mexico (Map). Rand McNally. 1938. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  9. Road Map of Arizona (Map). Rand McNally. 1961. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  10. Lowery, Dennis (1960-03-01). "Initiative Part of Bigger Dispute". Arizona Daily Sun. p. 1.
  11. "Relocation Here Impossible, SF Says". Arizona Daily Sun. 1959-05-20. p. 1.
  12. Lowery, Dennis (1960-02-29). "Initiative 200 Brews Up a Storm". Arizona Daily Sun. p. 1.
  13. "Flagstaff City Election Results". Arizona Daily Sun. 1960-03-10. p. 5.
  14. "Needles Future at Stake in Routing of Highway 40". Pasadena, California: The Independent. November 4, 1965.
  15. "Interstate 40 Routing Plea Made". Los Angeles Times. September 9, 1965. p. A10.
  16. "Needles Wins Its Fight to Keep Interstate 40". Los Angeles Times. February 3, 1966. p. 3.
  17. Lesure, Thomas (December 11, 1960). "Arizona Highway Dream Comes True". New York Times. p. XX20.
  18. "I-40 Work On Schedule State Says". Yuma Daily Sun. September 22, 1964. p. 10.
  19. Lederer, Edith (September 22, 1967). "High Cost Highways:Funds Tie Ups Interstate String". Fresno Bee.
  20. "Butler Busy Center". Arizona Daily Sun. October 21, 1971. p. B7.
  21. "Kingman, Ash Fork Cutoff Progressing". Arizona Daily Sun. March 2, 1971. p. 9.
  22. "Sundt Gets Contract For Winslow Bypass". December 4, 1977. p. 3.
  23. "It's the End of the Road for Route 66". Philadelphia Inquirer. October 14, 1984. p. A17.
  24. "You Can No Longer Get Kicks on Route 66". Wichita, Kansas: Wichita Eagle. June 29, 1985. p. 1A.
  25. "INITIAL DESIGN CONCEPT REPORT: I-40, Bellemont to Winona" (PDF). ADOT. Stanley Consultants, Inc. February 2011. p. 46. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  26. "Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030: Place Matters" (PDF). City of Flagstaff Official Website. City of Flagstaff, AZ and its representatives. January 14, 2014. pp. X-4, X-5. Retrieved November 19, 2015.

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Interstate 40
Previous state:
Arizona Next state:
New Mexico

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