The beleaguered $1.7 billion, 1.2 million-square-foot U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora, CO, is now 78% finished and will be completed — four years behind schedule — in 2018, according to the Denver Business Journal.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, under a $571 million contract, stepped in for the VA as managers of the facility in November 2015 after Congress took away the VA's authority to run any construction project valued above $100 million.
- The Corps said it is working in conjunction with general contractor Kiewit-Turner, as well as a team from the VA, in order to meet the new deadline. The final phase, during which the hospital will be outfitted with necessary equipment, furnishings and fixtures, will cost an additional $340 million, Corps representatives told the Aurora Sentinel. This takes the total project cost past the $2 billion mark.
The VA originally estimated that the hospital would cost $600 million, but budget overruns and delays due to alleged agency mismanagement saw that figure quickly rise dramatically. The VA awarded Kiewit-Turner the hospital contract in 2010, but the joint venture stopped work on the project in 2014, citing breach of contract, when it became clear that the VA's project budget was not going to be adequate to finance the rest of the hospital construction.
From that time until the Corps took over, the VA engaged in a funding dance with Congress, which eventually, albeit reluctantly, provided the extra money necessary to complete the facility.
After having its construction powers all but eliminated by Congress, the VA launched a subsequent investigation — ostensibly to discover the core of its management failures — and ended up placing blame with three former employees and said there was no evidence that justified action against any current staff. Critics of that decision said the results of the agency's investigation were further evidence that it refused to take responsibility for the $1 billion overrun and schedule setbacks.
The hospital, which will serve an estimated 400,000 veterans and their families when complete, will feature a 31-bed spinal treatment facility, as well as audiology services. Those facilities are almost complete, and the Corps said it expects to hand over those and other near-ready segments to the VA in the coming months.