The new transit center would connect rail services to Bob Hope Airport.

The new transit center would connect rail services to Bob Hope Airport. (File photo)

Bob Hope Airport officials are ready to submit to federal authorities a key environmental assessment of plans for a new $130-million transportation center. The center will connect to the nearby train station, upgrade rental car facilities and generate solar energy.

The public-comment period on the report closed Friday, and as of Friday afternoon, no input had been received, an airport spokeswoman said. The study now goes to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is expected to post its comments in 30 days — the final step in clearing the project for construction.

Airport leaders hope to complete the main part of the regional transportation center by the end of 2012, according to the draft environmental assessment.

Executive Director Dan Feger told the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority board of directors this week that the center is "the largest construction project ever" at the airport.

The airport will begin the unusual process of pre-qualifying contractors, or making sure they have the financial resources to see their construction commitments through, at a meeting on Thursday.

Plans call for a three-story complex near the corner of Hollywood Way and Empire Avenue that will house the airport's car rental lots and offices, as well as areas for shuttle services and a waiting lounge. An elevated walkway will connect travelers to the airport terminal.

Each year the building will save nearly 700,000 car trips from the airport to facilities on Empire, where rental companies currently perform maintenance and repairs on their fleets, according to the assessment.

The airport's current car rental area, near Terminal B, will be wiped out to create a larger safety zone for planes on the airport's east-west runway.

The plan also calls for a two-story parking structure nearby to replace ground-level spots that will be lost when the transportation center goes up.

In a second phase of the project, the airport plans to build an enclosed walkway connecting the center to the Bob Hope Airport Metrolink Station on Empire. In order to complete that expansion, the airport must acquire 2.7 acres of land from Union Pacific Railroad.

Solar panels will cover the roof of the transportation center and the enclosed connector to the Metrolink station, totaling seven acres of surface area. Airport spokeswoman Lucy Burghdorf said the city will own the solar panels and take responsibility for distributing the energy they generate.

The environmental assessment, prepared by Chicago-based Ricondo & Associates Inc., stated the project will have no significant environmental impacts, given that the land is already paved and dedicated to aviation and transportation uses.

It also points out that "there is no known organized opposition to the project."

A link to the full report is available at http://www.burbankairport.com.