I-40 'bypasses' Santa Rosa and Route 66

Created: 12/27/2013 8:14 PM
By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4

For a lot of New Mexicans, this highway is the quickest way to get to work or home, but some people say it has destroyed their work and home.

We call it I-40, but folks in Santa Rosa and most communities along Route 66 will only refer to it as "the Bypass".

During the 50s and 60s, Route 66 was the main way to get from the Heartland to the West Coast, but that all changed with the inception of the Interstate Highway. That made it easy for travelers to "bypass" the towns that depended on America's Main Street.

In the Disney movie "Cars"  the fictional town of Radiator Springs was also bypassed.

Unfortunately for parts of New Mexico, this isn't a made up story. It's a reality that's already dealt a blow to these towns.

Much of Moriarty has been boarded up, including the famous "Comedor de Anayas". Santa Rosa is suffering too.

John Martinez, owner of the Comet II Drive-In & Restaurant, says that Santa Rosa is dying slowly by the vine.

"I counted up 22 boarded up buildings not too long ago. 4th Street, which used to be our Main Street, used to be lively. It's deserted now. It's a ghost street," Martinez said.

Residents, like Keith Ross, the owner of Silver Moon Cafe, says the bad economy has made things worse.

"The recession has not been easy on Santa Rosa in general. Like other communities, Santa Rosa has been struggling," Ross said.

Silver Moon, Comet II, and Joseph's Bar and Grill have had their ups and downs. At one point, Joseph's was on the brink of closing forever.

Jose Campos, owner of Joseph's, said that traffic declined during the oil crisis of the late 70s and early 80s.

"The bypass came through. There was a decline in Route 66 business. There was a time where we almost closed," Campos said.

John Martinez says that they're all just trying to make a living. They're not really competitors. They're just business people.

Right now those businesses are relying on New Mexicans to help.

Martinez says that his business is basically 75-80% local, while Ross stated that more and more people from Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Clovis are coming down on the weekends to enjoy the lakes, go fishing, swimming, and boating.

Will it be enough to save the City of Natural Lakes? John Martinez thinks so because Santa Rosans are survivalists and will adjust.

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