After a couple of false starts and an arduous vetting process, Burbank Bob Hope Airport officials finally let the dirt fly Friday, celebrating a groundbreaking for the airport’s new transportation center that has long been in the making.

In the absence of a new terminal, expectations are high that the new 520,000-square-foot, $112.6-million transportation center will do more than just draw more passengers to the airport through bus and rail connections. What the aging airfield needs is a major make-over and a marketing recast.

Consolidating rental car facilities with the transit connections, and constructing a 19-foot-high elevated walkway to the terminal, will be a big transformation, at least visually. Whether commuters will take to the change remains to be seen, but something had to be done to keep Bob Hope Airport relevant in the minds of customers.

Successfully completing this project at or under budget would also do a lot to bolster confidence in the airport authority’s ability to take on that other major project that — despite all the political hedging — lingers in the distance: a new terminal.