Allan Sumpter got off to a good start with Smyth County’s leaders.
He’s the new administrator for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Abingdon residency, which serves Smyth County. Last week, he introduced himself to the county’s board of supervisors. While Sumpter is new to the residency, he’s not new to VDOT or transportation. On the day of his visit, he was marking his 31st anniversary in the field and 25th with VDOT.
Sumpter, a Southwest Virginia native, has previously served in Lebanon, Charlottesville and Wise.
The supervisors’ first question to the new administrator regarded the status of funding for McMullin Bridge, which has been closed since January 2014 and has limited the residents of the Hall Addition neighborhood to one access route in and out.
VDOT closed the bridge when an inspection found “increased deterioration in the superstructure.” VDOT inspectors determined that the Rt. 660 bridge was fracture critical, which means if one part of the bridge fractures, the structure will fail. The inspectors ruled that repairing the bridge wasn’t possible.
Last week, John Bechtold, the residency’s assistant administrator, said the McMullin Bridge project remains a candidate for VDOT State of Good Repair (SGR) funds. The current cost estimate for the project is $7 million.
Last fall, the bridge was one of 70 projects in VDOT’s Bristol District vying for the SGR bridge funds. However, Bechtold told supervisors that many of the interstate projects that were ahead of the bridge have already been funded so it’s odds for approval are improving. He cautioned that should it be funded, it would likely be 2024 before the money is available. Past projections have indicated the project will take about four years to complete.
In the meantime, VDOT has received $2.7 million to improve safety, sight distance and traffic flow at the intersection where Hall Addition residents must turn off U.S. 11 onto Rt. 660 (Railroad Drive). According to VDOT, this stretch of U.S. 11 carries about 3,200 vehicles a day.
Sumpter and Bechtold also presented the supervisors with a report on VDOT’s work in the county. The report detailed maintenance activity, upcoming projects, traffic studies, bridge work and other details. The supervisors were so impressed with the report, they asked that it be shared on the county’s website so citizens can access it. The report can be found at http://www.smythcounty.org/board_of_supervisors/vdot_projects_update.pdf