Source: | Sean Franklin |November 10, 2017

The winds are shifting in the right direction and plans are taking off to build an airport in Oak Ridge at the East Tennessee Technology Park.

Plans have been in the works for a while, and city officials the project is moving quickly toward becoming a reality.

The airport would have a 5,000-foot runway, and would be located at the East Tennessee Technology Center on Oak Ridge Turnpike.

“We’re excited, it looks probable,” Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said. “We’re the largest city in the state that doesn’t have an airport for our size.”

Watson has worked with the FAA to see how it can be done.

“We have a done serious bit of analysis,” Watson said. “We’ve looked at prevailing winds, we’ve looked at proximity to highways, we’ve looked at clearance zones.”

So far, things look good, especially when you consider how much of a help added transportation could be for Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Center.

Watson said Oak Ridge is proud to be partnering with the Knoxville Metropolitan Airport Authority to make the project happen.

“It’ll create a local opportunity for someone to drop in for a short period of time, maybe they have business at the laboratory, maybe they have business with our industries, and then they’ll pick up and go on to the their next destinations,” Watson said.

Watson says it would be a Class B airport, which normally has airspace up to about 10,000 feet.

So you won’t see large jets overhead.

“80-plus percent of the flights are going to be taking off the to the southwest, and that’s pretty much open territory,” Watson said.

Watson said the city will get help from the state and federal funds.

“We recently been notified of a $15 million grant request by the state of Tennessee, which, that puts skin in the game as far as Tennessee is concerned as we ask for a great investment from the Federal Aviation Administration,” Watson said.

Navigating the city toward the skies in the near future.

Watson says the timeline for the airport is hazy – it all depends on funding, especially at the national level.

So, as of now, it’s tough to give it exact dates.