Construction on the bike path between Broida Hall and Webb Hall began last week, four months behind schedule and slightly over budget.

The Broida Expressway Bicycle Path will connect the bike path that stretches around the perimeter of the main campus with the path near Davidson Library. Project Manager Marsha Zilles said the path — originally slated for completion this month — will be finished in late Jan. 2006, depending on winter weather. Besides taking longer to complete, Zilles said the project costs $140,000 more than was expected, making the total cost $740,000 for a 120-yard path.

While construction was scheduled to begin in June, Zilles said the university had to find another bidder after the originally selected construction company retracted its offer. She said construction costs are $140,000 higher than expected because of fuel shortages caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which subsequently caused fuel costs to rise. China’s current high demand for materials and building supplies is also causing construction prices in America to rise, she said.

“We’re paying 10 percent more for the project than was originally projected,” Zilles said. “Rising fuel costs [are a problem]; we’re getting hit in every which way we can.”

The project is primarily funded through a $3 per quarter per student lock-in fee, which was approved by graduate and undergraduate students in the 2004 Spring campus-wide election, said Scott Bull, advisor for the Associated Students Bicycle Improvements Keep Everyone Safe (A.S. B.I.K.E.S) committee. Bull said the remaining $120,000 for the project will be funded by UCSB Facilities Management, as well as with money A.S. B.I.K.E.S had originally set aside for other projects.

A.S. B.I.K.E.S had not planned to pay out of its own budget for the project, Bull said, as they thought the $620,000 raised from the student lock-in fee would be enough. However, with the increase in project construction costs, paying for some of the difference was the only way the path would be completed, he said. A.S. B.I.K.E.S will pay for the majority of the additional $120,000, Bull said, but the group is currently negotiating to get more funding from the Facilities Management budget.

“We had to use money we had set aside for other projects,” Bull said. “We had not anticipated spending that money, but it was the only way to get this project to move forward. It will definitely take away from some of our other projects.”

The Broida Expressway Bicycle Path has been on A.S. B.I.K.E.S’s agenda since the group’s conception in the 1997-1998 school year, said A.S. B.I.K.E.S. founding member Jim Dalton. He said a faculty member initially opposed the plan because he wanted to keep the campus pedestrian-oriented.

“In the early stages, the faculty opposed the project because there were still some who saw the campus as a pedestrian mall,” Dalton said. “They didn’t want bikes on campus.”

Bull said A.S. B.I.K.E.S. worked with the students and departments in the area to come up with a plan for the path that was acceptable to everyone.

“Plans have changed to accommodate different department’s needs,” Bull said. “We wanted this to be a project that everyone in that area would be excited about.”

Zilles said G. Sosa Construction from Los Osos, Calif. was the lowest bidder and was selected to handle the project. She said the path will follow the south side of Broida Hall and will connect the existing bike paths near the Engineering I Building and Davidson Library. Plans now include a roundabout in front of Bren Hall and landscape and irrigation to connect the service road by the Engineering II Building to the parking on the west side of Webb Hall.

Dalton said funding was the primary problem with getting the bike path built from the beginning. However, Zilles said it made sense for students to pay for the project because $3 for nine quarters is significantly less than a $150 ticket for riding a bike on the sidewalk between Broida Hall and Webb Hall.

This year’s committee chair Jen Greeley said she’s glad the project — one of A.S. B.I.K.E.S’s founding goals — is finally happening, but the group still has a lot of work to do.

“This looks like a really good project,” Greeley said. “I’m glad it’s finally going forward. But now that this vision has been realized, there’s still plenty of stuff to do.”