After almost two decades of discussion, plans are finally underway for the construction of the Broida Expressway bike path, which university planners said will be completed in October.

The 120-yard Broida Expressway will run along south of Broida Hall, from the Engineering I Building to Davidson Library and will connect the two paths at each location. Students approved a campuswide lock-in fee in Spring Quarter 2004 to pay for the bike path, and for the next three years, each student will pay $3 per quarter to finance the $600,000 project. Marsha Zilles, program manager of the Physical Facilities Dept., said the 140-day construction period will begin in mid-June and will continue through the end of October.

Marc Fisher, associate vice chancellor for Campus Design and Facilities, said a bike path between Broida Hall and Webb Hall will improve student life on campus.

“It’s a missing piece of the bike path,” Fisher said. “So students can get from Isla Vista to Broida and the Engineering buildings. It will let them shoot straight across the campus.”

With no bike path currently running from the Engineering I Building to the library, many students ride their bikes on the walkways in between buildings to get to their classes in that part of campus. If a bicyclist is caught riding in the walkway, which is reserved for pedestrians, it could result in a $128 ticket, said Soumil Mehta, co-chair of the Associated Students Bicycle Improvements Keep Everyone Safe committee (A.S. BIKES).

“I think that students don’t have many options,” Fisher said. “This will make it so they don’t have to break the law.”

Mehta said previous attempts to create the bike path failed because of the project’s cost and its lack of a funding source. Under previous proposals, the university would have paid for the majority of the project. But with the lock-in fee, students are agreeing to foot the bill.

Mehta said student involvement in the planning of the bike path and their willingness to pay for it encouraged the university to take notice.

“A.S. BIKES was founded to deal with this problem,” he said. “Students have always wanted this.”

Zilles said a combination of factors helped the project get to its current stage.

“The right elements: People, money, situations, policies have to be in place for projects,” she said. “Very strong and committed people helped to get this through. We have the very supportive Marc Fisher, [associate vice chancellor for Campus Design and Facilities], the past chair [of A.S. BIKES] Ed France, and the very strong and committed co-chairs Kamron Sockolov and Soumil Mehta,” Zilles said.

After the lock-in fee passed last year, the A.S. BIKES committee and Zilles began planning for the new bike path. Zilles said the new plan aims to ensure that the Broida Plaza is not destroyed and its existing trees are left intact.

In addition, some of the trailers in front of the Engineering I Building will have to be altered to make room for the bike path, Zillas said. One trailer will have to be moved forward 15 feet and another trailer will have its deck removed because both are in the way of the proposed path, she said.

“This has to be done for the path to come in,” Zilles said. “We are improving Broida altogether.”

The number of bike racks available to students during and after the project’s construction will be severely reduced, Mehta said. Only roughly 80 spots will available after the bike path’s completion, and A.S. BIKES plans to tackle the problem then, Mehta said.

Next week a group from Urban Design Associates will come to UCSB and meet in private with university planners to show different ways that UCSB’s entire network of existing bike paths can be altered to make it more efficient, Fisher said. The planning committee is also looking for ways to increase access from Ocean Road.

“Long-term plans shows bike paths along the lagoon and event center, and also along Mesa Road,” Fisher said. “We want to have a whole grid of bike paths.”