AUBURN – The Auburn-Opelika Robert G. Pitts Airport has been an influential aspect of the community since its completion in 1930, and now, as ground is broken Thursday for a new terminal and flight line, a 20-year aspiration for further growth will finally be realized.
“The desire for a new terminal was initially expressed in the late 1980s, and since then we’ve continued to grow,” said Bill Hutto, airport director. “This addition is extremely necessary and should prove to be tremendously beneficial for Auburn University and our community.”
The groundbreaking will be held Thursday, June 18, at 1 p.m. Mayor Bill Ham, chairman of the Airport Advisory Board, will serve as the master of ceremonies. During the event, Auburn University President Jay Gogue, state Rep. Mike Hubbard and Board of Trustees member Paul Spina will address a distinguished list of guests, which includes members of the Auburn University Board of Trustees and a number of additional state and local government officials and administrators.
Owned by Auburn University, the airport functions as a training ground for aviation students in addition to serving the local area as a public use facility.
“We have over 65,000 aircraft operations every year and, without this addition, we would not have the space or amenities to adequately support our mission,” said Hutto, “But, with this new construction, our dream will be able to become a tangible public benefit.”
Once ground is broken, construction is scheduled to take only one year to reach completion, but the current planning effort began back in 2002 through funding from Lee County and the cities of Auburn and Opelika. These local governments support this growth as an important component of the areas’ economic development efforts.
“Modernizing and growing our airport will better reflect the university and community it supports and create a better impression with visitors of what we are really about,” Hutto said. “This is a huge addition to the university and should serve as an economic tool to help advance our region.”
(Contributed by Sarah Jane Little.)