Throwback Thursday: Prank pushed completion of 101/280/680 interchange in San Jose

280/680/101 interchange in San Jose
280/680/101 interchange in San Jose before completion.

An important South Bay interchange needed a kick to get it moving and San Jose City Councilman Joe Colla had a wild plan to do just that.

It was January 1976 and a planned interchange connecting Highway 101 and Interstates 280 and 680 was in limbo after construction funds were frozen, with critics deriding it as the "Monument to Nowhere."

Colla and his cabal hatched a plan to hoist a Chevy Impala atop the structure with a crane, then have the councilman pose with it. Colla was then to be lowered by a helicopter to the site. That's exactly what happened and a photo of Colla, the car on the incomplete connector went what would be called "viral" today.

Suddenly funds from Sacramento began to flow back to the project, which was completed in 1981. Colla passed in 1995 and in 2016 the interchange was named for him. Today, almost half a million cars use the interchange daily.

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