The Fishhook is an old, unique interchange in Santa Cruz, California (population 55,000). It was built in two stages between the 1940's and 1950's, and allows travel between California state highways 1 and 17.
Highway 1 is the coast highway along California, better known in its Southern California section as the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH. Within the greater Santa Cruz area, Highway 1 is the main artery through Santa Cruz County (population 255,000), allowing travel between Santa Cruz (the county seat, and home to the University of California, Santa Cruz campus), the Capitola Mall (in the city of Capitola--the county's largest and only true mall), Aptos (home of Seascape, a large coastal resort), and Watsonville (the nation's premiere strawberry-growing region).
Santa Cruz is situated at the north end of the Monterey Bay, along the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It is probably best known for its beaches and the very popular Beach Boardwalk, the only oceanfront amusement park on the West Coast. Santa Cruz is also only about 30 miles south of San Jose, California, and the well-known technology hub Silicon Valley. Both of these are major reasons why Highway 17 is so vital to Santa Cruz County. During the summer months, thousands of tourists come over the Santa Cruz Mountains along Highway 17 down to Santa Cruz. Year round, an estimated 35,000 Santa Cruz County residents commute daily from Aptos, Soquel, Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and the San Lorenzo Valley in Santa Cruz County over to San Jose, the East Bay, the San Francisco Bay Penninsula, and San Francisco itself. Simply put, there are tons of jobs in San Jose, but not enough housing, while in Santa Cruz County there are few jobs, some housing, and a great climate and community.
The Fishhook Itself
The Fishhook was named for its characteristic 270-degree hairpin turn, which is part of the northern portion of the interchange. In fact, the interchange itself is a combination of two separate interchanges superimposed on one another, which is part of the problem. The interchange has many accidents and is inefficient at moving through the number of cars that pass through it every day. The state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has recorded upwards of 100,000 cars per day pass through the interchange to and from the east via Highway 1. These are why many people have been asking for a redesign of the fishhook for many years.
Below are some links to various topics about the Fishhook.
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