Oak Ridge Airport waiting for green light from FAA

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport authority is looking to develop a general aviation airport in Oak Ridge.

They've proposed building a 5,000 ft. runway and other aviation infrastructure in the Heritage Center industrial park near the former K-25 facility. That's off the Oak Ridge Turnpike.

"We're the largest city in the state of Tennessee that does not have any kind of general aviation airport," City Manager Mark Watson said.

The airport authority and the city hope the airport would help revitalize the industrial park and boost economic development in the area.

"It's all about convenience and time of delivery, getting product information, or people to places quicker, better, faster," Watson said.

He says companies take that kind of convenience into consideration when looking for a city to call home. An airport in the industrial park would put a runway feet from potential plants and factories.

"We've had some really great businesses that have come in and looked at this," Watson said. "If we have an airport, I think that may be what takes them over the top, and makes that decision to create hundreds or thousands of jobs in the region."

The airport would support small airplanes and corporate jets. There are no intentions of bringing commercial aviation or airlines to the airport.

The project started back in 2011, with a planning study, and justification study. Since then, it has passed two phases of barriers for approval.

The concept renderings for the airport have already been approved by the Department of Energy. The final layout master plans are awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"The most important thing is patience," Watson said. "It takes a long time for this to scoot through the state and federal system. I think we've been successful."

Once the Airport Authority receives the approval they will look for funding options. Watson says that the federal government could pay up to 90% of the costs of the multi-million dollar project.

For more about the proposed Oak Ridge Airport click here.