The 8th lane on the Oak Ridge Rowing Course has been completed on schedule and under budget, just in time to welcome teams for spring training and the season’s first regatta.
Previously, the course utilized seven rowing lanes, taking Oak Ridge out of the running for any event requiring eight lanes for competition. Part of the waterway was widened and a retaining wall installed in order to create the additional lane.
Spring training started in late February and Oak Ridge has already welcomed dozens of teams to town. The first regatta on this season’s schedule, the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational, kicks off Saturday, March 11. Approximately 12 teams will compete in the event before it wraps up on Sunday, March 12.
First Place Finish, Inc., was selected to carry out the project back in September. The $548,350 contract was awarded to the company during a meeting of City Council. A partial closure of Melton Lake Greenway and a temporary speed limit reduction along part of Melton Lake Drive were both lifted this week.
“This is a very exciting project for our community,” Recreation and Parks Department Director Jon Hetrick said. “Having something of this scale completed on time and under budget is a win for everyone involved.”
Construction of the 8th lane was funded by a combination of state appropriations ($250,000 from the State of Tennessee), City Capital Improvement funds and a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The Oak Ridge Rowing Association (ORRA), Explore Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge Economic Development Initiative, and Visit Knoxville also contributed funds to the project.
“These entities have come together to fund a project that will allow the world-class Oak Ridge Rowing Course to attract even more and larger events,” City Manager Mark Watson said. “The new lane also ensures that the Oak Ridge course will remain competitive as one of the top-ranked rowing venues in the United States.”
Rowing has an annual economic impact of more than $2 million for Oak Ridge and surrounding communities. The City would like to express its gratitude to State Representative John Ragan, Lt. Governor Randy McNally and all those who have worked so hard to support this important project.