OAK RIDGE AIRPORT
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Last updated: MAY 2023
In 2009, the City of Oak Ridge was advised of an initiative to begin the development of a new general aviation airport in the City. The airport was proposed to be under the ownership and operation of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority (MKAA), which began significant planning efforts on the project.
Between 2012 and 2020, MKAA, which was the recognized agency to lead the planning, researched funding and conducted technical reviews to demonstrate the need for the regional general aviation airport.
On July 21, 2020, City Council approved Resolution 7-75-2020 authorizing actions related to the Oak Ridge General Aviation Airport. These actions included seeking transfer of sponsorship of the airport from MKAA to the City of Oak Ridge and initiating transfers of grants related to the airport to the City. MKAA agreed to transfer sponsorship to the City on September 28, 2020, through an assignment and assumption agreement. City staff took steps to transfer grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Tennessee Aeronautics Economic Development Fund (AEDF) from MKAA to the City to realign it with the new sponsorship.
WHERE WILL THE AIRPORT BE LOCATED?
East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) at Heritage Center, on the site of the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant (a.k.a. K-25) and adjacent or roughly parallel to Oak Ridge Turnpike (Hwy 58).
HOW IS THE AIRPORT BEING PAID FOR? HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
No significant funding from the City is anticipated at this time for the project. For grants which require matches, funding will either come from grants from other agencies or in-kind donations. Further authorization would be required from City Council once actual costs are determined by the preliminary design.
Approximately $22 million in funding is currently available and allocated for the airport project through the ARC and the AEDF. In-kind contributions from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee (CROET) for the value of land are to be transferred at minimal cost for this project. The City has received an additional $11 million in State funding for land acquisition, bringing total State investment in the project to $30 million. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has yet to determine the contribution it will make to the project, but the Benefit-Cost Analysis calls for $20 million in funding.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has provided a $40,000 grant for the project.
In March 2021, UT-Battelle Development Corporation contributed $500,000 to assist with the project.
EnergySolutions donated an underutilized railroad track where part of the proposed airport’s 5,000-foot runway would go.
Based on a 2018 estimate, the project is expected to cost about $55 million.
WHO IS WORKING ON THE PROJECT?
The airport project is being managed by the City Manager’s Office. The proposed project has received widespread regional support, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Chambers of Commerce in Oak Ridge, Knoxville, and Blount County.
WHAT WILL THE AIRPORT BE USED FOR?
The airport, with a 5,000-foot runway, will support general aviation in the Oak Ridge Corridor region, as current capacity is limited in this market and does not support projected growth and future demand. The proposed airport will support growth in the business, industrial, and tourism sectors and allow leaders to fly to Oak Ridge, putting the City on the map for technology companies. It would incentivize industry developing nearby – like Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals Corp., which is an Eastern U.S. distribution company that develops medical isotopes. The DOE has also voiced their support for the project and stated that it will benefit their operations in Oak Ridge.
The airport will leverage existing assets and strengthen the region’s manufacturing base. A secondary goal is the diversification of the Oak Ridge and Roane County economies that will be negatively impacted by anticipated long-term reductions in federal employment that currently numbers approximately 12,000 jobs. Specifically, the design and construction of a new Oak Ridge Airport at the ETTP will support the objective of new manufacturing investment with high-growth potential in the emerging carbon fiber and alternative energy industries.
WHAT'S THE TIMELINE? WHEN WILL THE AIRPORT OFFICIALLY OPEN?
The City is working to transfer several parcels of land from CROET, DOE, and the private sector. Appraisals of privately-owned lands at the airport site are being renewed, and City Staff are working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to begin the acquisition process. The City’s contractor is finalizing the Environmental Assessment and continuing work on the Preliminary Engineering study. The FAA has begun drafting its Section 106 Report to submit to the State Historic Preservation Office. The goal is to have planes in the air in 2025.
Aeronautic Economic Development Fund (AEDF)
Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Grants
ARC Approval Memo (9/28/2020)
City of Oak Ridge Resolutions
City Council Resolution 1-3-2021 (5/5/21): Joint resolution of intent between the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee (CROET) regarding acquisition of CROTE-owned land as part of the Oak Ridge General Aviation Airport.
City Council Resolution 1-10-2021 (1/19/21): Resolution authorizing acceptance of grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Tennessee Aeronautics Economic Development Fund (AEDF) for the Oak Ridge General Aviation Airport.
City Council Resolution 7-75-2020 (7/21/20): Resolution authorizing actions for the continued application and development of the Oak Ridge General Aviation Airport, indication of the transfer to the City of Oak Ridge as primary sponsoring party from Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority (MKAA), and authorizing the City Manager to take any necessary actions to pursue Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Tennessee Aeronautics Division (TAC), and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) implementation of the project.
City Council Resolution 8-82-2020: Resolution authorizing the City Manager to request, and accept if awarded, an Economic Development Grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority in the amount of $40,000 to be used for consulting services associated with the Oak Ridge General Aviation Airport.
City Council Resolution 8-93-2022: Resolution authorizing the City to accept a direct appropriation grant from the State of Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) in the amount of $11,000,000 for the Oak Ridge General Aviation Airport.
City Council Memorandum (1/19/21): Acceptance of Grants to Aid in Development of The Oak Ridge General Aviation Airport
City Council Memorandum (7/17/20): Resolution of intent to assume development of Oak Ridge General Aviation Airport
Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority (MKAA)
Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT)
TDOT Grant Contracts:
Interim Oak Ridge City Manager
Senior Communications Specialist