"We are the Department of Transportation, not the Department of Roads," states TDOT spokesperson Jennifer Flynn.

However, when TDOT isn't fixing roads it's working to make Tennessee's airports better and safer. Flynn says it keeps the Aeronautics Division busy.

"Our Aeronautics Division is responsible for licensing 74 general aviation facilities across the state, and 148 heliports," says Flynn.

It also has pilots who fly a fleet of state planes for government use, based in this hangar in Nashville.

"So, if Governor Haslam flies in to visit and have a meeting in Chattanooga, then he would be using one of the state planes," adds Flynn.

Perhaps one of its most important roles is securing state and federal grants for airport maintenance and improvements, including runway repairs. The corporate aviation hangar at the Wilson Air Center on the west side of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport was funded by those grants. It was completed in 2016. Airport Authority President and CEO Terry Hart says more and more companies have been coming to The Scenic City to do business, and they prefer using their own planes.

"When you look at this continued growth that's going on we had a lot of demand and we just needed more capacity. So, we built the 28,500 square foot hangar," explains Hart.

Hart says because of the TDOT grants he didn't have to increase fees for customers. 

"I think it's worked out very well. I would say that the customers that come through here like the facilities, like the service, and I think it's been very good for the community," adds Hart.

The grant for the hangar was around $3.5 million. Other airports in southeast Tennessee benefiting from recent TDOT grants include the Cleveland Regional Jetport, Dallas Bay Skypark, Collegedale Municipal Airport, and the Marion County airport in Jasper.

The Aeronautics Division also performs engineering services and aviation planning studies, and it does community outreach and education.