Joe Colla Interchange

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Joe Colla Interchange
San Jose Traffic Jam.jpg
View of a ramp in the Joe Colla Interchange
San Jose, California
Coordinates37°20′23″N 121°51′06″W / 37.33965°N 121.851683°W / 37.33965; -121.851683Coordinates: 37°20′23″N 121°51′06″W / 37.33965°N 121.851683°W / 37.33965; -121.851683
Roads at
TypeFour-level Interchange
Opened1981 (1981)
Maintained byCaltrans

The Joe Colla Interchange is a highway interchange in San Jose, California, United States, connecting Interstate 280 (I-280), I-680, and U.S. Route 101 (US 101). It's named after Joe Colla, a former councilman of San Jose, who also participated in a stunt in 1976 to protest the interchange's delayed construction.[1]


The highway is a four level stack interchange. US 101 serves the first level of the complex. The second level marks the southern termini of both I-280 and I-680, as their primary lanes head into each other; I-280 then runs from the interchange southwesterly to Downtown San Jose, while I-680 runs northeasterly. The third level contains ramps connecting northbound US 101 to northbound I-280 and southbound US 101 to northbound I-680, and the fourth level is a ramp connecting southbound I-680 to southbound US 101. This ramp is a site of major traffic, as there are only two lanes of the ramp from southbound I-680 to southbound US 101. The fourth-level ramp connects the third level ramp as they enter US 101, while the third-level ramp heading to northbound I-680 connects a ramp from northbound US 101 to northbound I-680. A one-lane ramp connects southbound US 101 to northbound I-280 and a cloverleaf ramp connects southbound I-280 to northbound US 101. The ramps to and from US 101 south then extend over the cloverleaf interchange with Story Road.

The interchange is a major traffic hub for the San Francisco Bay Area. From the interchange, I-280 then runs just to the west of the larger cities of San Francisco Peninsula for most of its route to San Francisco. I-680 curves around the eastern cities of the Bay Area to join I-80 in Fairfield, providing a connection to Sacramento. US 101 heads north along the eastern side of the San Francisco Peninsula to San Francisco, and south to the California Central Coast and Los Angeles.


The Joe Colla Interchange (US 101 at I-280 and I-680) in 1975

The construction of the Joe Colla Interchange was delayed for almost five years.[1] In 1976, three uncompleted flyover ramps hung over US 101 and unfinished I-280/I-680. At this time, both I-280 and I-680 were completed to their current southern terminus. I-280 ended at State Route 17 (SR 17), now I-880, and I-680 ended in Milpitas, California.[2]

Joe Colla stunt[edit]

Near midnight, protesters of the unfinished interchange Tom Carter, Joe Colla, and Doug Beatty placed a 1960 Chevrolet Impala on a crane and placed it on top of an unfinished ramp. They weren't seen by police, although one officer recalled seeing a crane on the unfinished ramp, but assumed that it was late night work.[1]

Later that morning, Joe Colla rode a helicopter to the top of the same unfinished ramp and took a picture with the Impala. The next day, that picture ran in dozens of newspapers and according to the San Jose Mercury News, pressured former governor of California Jerry Brown. Eventually, because of the stunt, the interchange was completed five years later, in 1981.

In 2010, this interchange was named the Joe Colla Interchange.[3][4] Signs naming the interchange were posted in January 2016.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Herhold, Scott (October 16, 2013). "Herhold: The Story Behind Joe Colla's Famous 1976 Highway Stunt". San Jose Mercury News. p. A4. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  2. ^ "Interstate 680 California". Interstate-Guide. Retrieved April 3, 2016.[self-published source]
  3. ^ "Bill Text". Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 102 - Joe Colla Interchange". California State Legislature. August 30, 2010. Retrieved November 10, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Rodriguez, Joe (January 9, 2016). "San Jose's Infamous Monument to Nowhere Freeway Interchange Finally Named after Joe Colla". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved April 6, 2016.