McGhee Tyson Airport’s Runway 5L-23R is Officially Open for Operational Use

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – After more than a decade of planning and construction, Runway
5L-23R is now open for air traffic, making McGhee Tyson Airport a two-runway airport once again.

“The opening of this new runway is a significant accomplishment for our airport system and allows us to build upon our $2.1 billion economic impact to the community as well,” said Patrick Wilson, A.A.E., President of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. “The length of the new runway allows aircraft the opportunity to carry more fuel and passengers for longer distances, which is critical for future development. Our airline and airport partners have continued to invest in our region by offering new flights and services, so we are honored to provide them with this new infrastructure, which will support their future missions and capabilities from McGhee Tyson Airport.”

The scope of this runway reconstruction project is unlike any other that has been performed at McGhee Tyson Airport, making it the largest construction project in the airport’s 84-year history. The project involved relocating a city roadway; moving more than 1 million cubic yards of earth; completely replacing the storm drain system; relocating a gas main; installing new, LED lighting circuits for more than 5,000 airfield lights; lengthening the new runway to 10,000ft; and installing an ILS system on the outboard runway. All of that was successfully completed while also being able to recycle 100% of the concrete in the previous runway to use as filler in the new runway, which helped to reduce the project’s environmental output.

This multi-phased runway reconstruction project totaled approximately $134 million and was funded by multiple partners, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Air National Guard Bureau, and the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. 

“This runway reconstruction is the largest of several projects included in the Airfield Modernization Plan, which is aimed at improving the capabilities and convenience of McGhee Tyson Airport for decades to come,” said Brian Simmons, Chairman of the MKAA Board of Commissioners. “Each project plays a significant role in our ability to remain competitive for air service, bring new jobs to our region through tenant recruitment, and provide passengers with a quality experience when flying into and out of the airport.”

The MKAA would like to thank CHA Consulting; Michael Baker International; Cannon & Cannon, Inc.; S&ME; Holt Consulting; McGuiness Unlimited; Eutaw Construction Company; and The Harper Company; plus several experienced subcontractor, all who have been instrumental in the success of this project.

For supplemental videos about the runway reconstruction project, click here.

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