After two and a half decades of planning, bidding and construction, the Broida Expressway bike path finally celebrates its grand opening at 10:30 a.m. today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Measuring 900 feet long, 12 feet wide and featuring a 165-foot-long roundabout, the $525,000 new addition to campus runs from Webb Hall to the Materials Research Laboratory. Past and present members of Associated Students Bicycle Improvements Keep Everyone Safe (A.S. BIKES), UCSB administrators and representatives from Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone’s office will be in attendance at today’s event.

Project Manager Marsha Zilles said the new bike path allows greater access to the east side of campus.

“It’s an east-west connecting link for the campus,” Zilles said. “Now students can legally ride their bikes down the Broida corridor to their classes.”

Zilles said bidding for the bike path project – part of UCSB’s 1980 Long Range Development Plan – began last June, but actual construction did not start until October because the lowest construction company price was too expensive, she said.

“Bids came in high, so we had to re-bid it,” Zilles said.

Zilles said UCSB ultimately selected G. Sosa Construction, Inc. to build the path, which was paid for by a three-year lock-in fee of $3 per student per quarter for undergraduate and graduate students. The lock-in fee took effect in Spring 2004.

“I think that’s an important point, because everyone thinks the Broida bike path costs a lot of money, but it costs $39 a student,” Zilles said. “So the students are paying $39 to avoid a $120 ticket for riding alongside Broida.”

The lock-in fee passed with 80 percent student approval, A.S. BIKES Committee Co-Chair Soumil Mehta said. Despite the enthusiastic show of financial support from students, however, Mehta said the funding was not enough, as the cost of the project exceeded estimates by 30 percent.

“We ran out of money because there was an increased cost of the project due to increased fuel cost and construction cost,” Mehta, a senior geography major, said.

In order to cover the additional cost, A.S. BIKES used money from its financial reserves and received additional funding from UCSB Facilities Management.

Mehta said difficulties in getting various academic and administrative departments on the campus to agree also contributed to the delays.

“The bike path runs through seven departments, so the politics in it were very intense,” Mehta said. “We also faced a lot of ‘maybe’ attitude.”

Mehta said the bike path makes traveling around campus easier and more enjoyable, considering the landscaping work that went into it.

“It’ll distribute traffic [and] it’ll make the campus better connected,” Mehta said. “Also, the area around it has been beautified – it’s given fresh life to the area.”