Rep. Brad Sherman stands at left as others, including L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, right, empty containers of dirt from other transportation centers during a ground breaking for the transit center on Friday, July 6, 2012.

Rep. Brad Sherman stands at left as others, including L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, right, empty containers of dirt from other transportation centers during a ground breaking for the transit center on Friday, July 6, 2012. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer / July 6, 2012)

At 520,000 square feet, it’s going to be big. And at $112.6 million, it will be expensive.

On Friday, a cadre of officials celebrated breaking ground on the massive center that is expected to transform how passengers use Burbank Bob Hope Airport.

The long-planned complex will bring bus, rail and car-rental services under one roof when it opens in the summer of 2014. The project, officials say, will not only make using the airport easier for commuters, but is an example of how regional public transit can connect to make the system more relevant to the public.

“Let’s get on with it. Let the dirt fly,” said Dan Feger, the airport’s executive director, moments before local dignitaries took shovels in hand.

Keeping with the connectivity theme, dirt from the 11 airports that have direct air connections to Bob Hope, and from four local transportation centers, was thrown into the soil at the site where the center will be built.

Lucy Burghdorf, the airport’s manager of public relations and government affairs, said she gave empty jars to airline managers at the airfield and asked them to bring back dirt from other airports, including those in Denver, Las Vegas and New York City.

During the ground-breaking ceremony, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich — who also serves as chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority — said it makes sense to extend train and bus service to better connect with the Bob Hope Airport and other airfields in the county.

“L.A County is the only major region in the United States that does not have rail connections to our airports,” he noted.

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, which owns and operates the airfield, recently allocated $1.75 million to help fund the construction of a new Metrolink train station north of the airport at Hollywood Way and San Fernando Road.

“It’s very stupid that we have to have people from Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley get off [the rail] at Burbank and take a bus back to the airport,” Antonovich said. “We’re going to work to correct that.”

Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski also noted that the project represents cooperation between the airport and several cities and agencies, and said the center would play an improved role in the event of natural disaster.

“The airport has really gone above and beyond to make sure that this transportation center will withstand a significant earthquake,” he said.

The project will be funded through $82.7 million in bonds, as well as passenger and customer charges, federal grants and airport authority funds.

It will also feature a 19-foot-high elevated and covered walkway that will connect the center to the airport terminal.

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