A $1.3 million project is under way to rebuild the Ben Martin Track at Oak Ridge High School by June. The asphalt base of the eight-lane track dates back to the 1950s, the rubber surface is washing away, and holes are visible in the disintegrating and patched lanes. The pole vault has been unusable since 2017, and track coaches and athletes from other schools have recently declined to compete in Oak Ridge because of the conditions.
That is expected to change with the new renovated facility, which could host large invitational, sectional, and college track meets. The renovation project will rebuild the asphalt base of the track, add a new rubberized surface, and replace underground utilities. All field events except pole vault will move to the infield. Shot put and discus rings will be on the north end of the football practice field, while long jump and triple jump will be along the straight section of track nearest the bleachers. The pole vault will remain on the south side of the track, but it will move to the west end near the field house.
“This is a first phase of what we hope to be a larger project long-term,” Allen Thacker, Oak Ridge Schools supervisor of maintenance and operations, told the Oak Ridge Board of Education in October. “This is foundational.”
The project has been talked about “behind the scenes” for a handful of years, and there has been intense planning for about two years, according to those involved.
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