Airport hub moves forward

A Metrolink train arrives Tuesday at Bob Hope Airport Train Station in Burbank. Bob Hope Airport is looking to acquire the parking lot adjacent to the Metro link tracks to be part of a transit center that would link the train and bus lines to the airport.
(Tim Berger/News-Press)

A large $120-million transit center that would combine bus, train and rental car traffic into one hub at Bob Hope Airport took a step closer to reality Tuesday after the Burbank City Council voted 4 to 1 to settle a number of land-use issues.

The council asked officials to come back with more fine-tuned landscaping proposals and a tighter agreement requiring that the land be used only for a transit center. Airport representatives said it represented a major step forward for the massive project.

“This is significant because we are now entitled to move forward with this project, and that’s huge,” airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

One of the key selling points for the transit center was to cut down on traffic generated by airport operations. Rental car companies must make 700,000 yearly trips to an off-site facility to service their fleets because there is no room at Bob Hope Airport, officials said.

The so-called Regional Intermodal Transportation Center would solve the space issue, as well as provide enough room for 14 buses with a transit lounge and a new parking structure for airport patrons.

Bob Hope Airport train station passengers would have access to an elevated pedestrian bridge over Empire Avenue to connect to the parking lot. An elevated pedestrian walkway with a moving sidewalk is planned to connect the parking structure to the air passenger terminal.

The City Council on Tuesday also moved forward with the acquisition of land owned by Union Pacific on Empire Avenue near the airport. The unpaved lot is currently used for parking by airport employees and patrons. According to the land deal, the airport would convert the 350 haphazard parking spots into 200 paved and maintained parking spaces.

The roof of the transit facility would also be covered in solar panels to not only supplement the center’s energy consumption, but eventually contribute to the city’s power grid. In an agreement with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, Bubank Water and Power will own and operate the panels on the roof.

“This is all about being a good neighbor,” Dan Feger, the airport authority’s executive director, said during his presentation to the council. “We want to reduce the environmental impact of the airport by encouraging rail and public transit.”

The $120-million project would be funded by airport facility fees imposed on passengers and rental car users, officials said.

The airport authority is scheduled to award contracts for program management and a construction design team this week.