By fall 2006, one UCSB entryway will have received an extreme makeover as the university plans to make improvements to the campus’ East Gate entrance.

Construction will begin June 1 for a $2.3 million project to revamp the East Gate entrance where the roadway from Highway 217 meets UCSB. If the East Gate Improvement Project goes as planned, it will be completed before the beginning of the next academic school year, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Design and Facilities Marc Fisher said.

Fisher said the East Gate’s current design does not do justice to the quality of the campus.

“Currently, the East Gate entrance does not symbolize how great UCSB is,” Fisher said. “The purpose of the project is to reflect the campus’ quality when you first enter UCSB.”

The proposed changes to the entrance include replacing the traffic signal with a roundabout, adding a new bus stop, putting in new lights and re-landscaping the area, he said.

“There will be a lot less pavement and a lot more colors,” Fisher said. “Bougainvillea flowers and day lilies will be planted, and Ficus Floridas [a type of canopy tree] will surround the traffic circle.”

He said the project, the bid for which was given to Granite Construction, will not only update campus aesthetics, but will also ease bike traffic making the campus safer for students.

“The traffic circle will help ease the congestion of traffic and make the intersection safer to cross,” Fisher said. “It will make it very easy to go in and out of campus because the traffic light is no longer there.”

To slow the speed of cars coming from the highway, Fisher said the entrance construction will employ a special type of pavement that is scored every inch at 3/4 inches deep.

As for the new bus stop, it will be placed at the west edge of the traffic circle, adjacent to Kohn Hall and the California NanoSystems Institute building, Fisher said, at a convenient location for pedestrians.

“This project will make the entrance a lot more pedestrian-friendly and people can walk from the bus stop to a trail soon to be constructed to reach Goleta Beach,” Fisher said. “The bus stop will give the community of UCSB better transportation options.”

While the intersection is not scheduled to be closed at any time during the construction, Fisher said traffic might be slowed.

When the project begins, it will be carried out in three phases in order to keep traffic going smoothly, he said.

“Phase one is light construction and will start on June 1, phase two is the heavy construction work, slated to commence on June 17 and phase three is the landscaping work,” Fisher said. “These phases will keep the intersection open because only certain parts of the road will be worked on at one time.”

Construction will be coordinated in such a way that the more labor-intensive phase will occur during the summer when the least amount of people will be on campus, Fisher said.

Director of Capital Development Martie Levy said she hopes construction of the entrance will wrap up before the end of summer.

“Hopefully, the project will be finished before students come back for school next fall,” Levy said. “If not, the bulk of the heavy construction should be done and only the landscaping will need to be completed.”

Levy said the university is funding the high cost of the project by seeking aid from such places as the Office of the Chancellor. She said the office will provide the majority of the funding through annual payments.

“The Chancellor will debt-fund the project,” Levy said. “He will use funds that he has from various sources to fund the project over 30 years at approximately $150,000 a year.”