Final contract awarded to finish Aurora VA hospital by 2018

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AURORA | The federal government awarded a final construction contract Friday to complete an over-budget veterans medical center in Aurora by January 2018.

The contract authorizes builder Kiewit-Turner to spend about $571 million more to finish the facility, on top of nearly $1.1 billion already spent.

FILE - In this May 21, 2015 file photo, members of a construction crew work at the site of the new Veterans Administration hospital complex, in Aurora, Colo.  Construction crews are returning to work at the veterans hospital outside Denver after a last-minute deal with congressional leaders avoided a shutdown of the half-finished project. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)Congress reluctantly approved up to $625 million in additional spending last month. The money is to come from other accounts within the Veterans Affairs Department budget.

The $1.7 billion total means the medical center will cost nearly triple the estimates of last year. Investigators blamed the overruns on multiple design changes and a decision by VA officials to use a complicated contract process they didn’t fully understand.

With the final contract signed, construction will speed up at the site in the eastern suburb of Aurora.

“It’s a relief,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, whose district includes the hospital.

Coffman and the other members of the Colorado delegation have sharply criticized the VA while pushing Congress to approve the money to complete the medical center.

Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter said he was pleased the contract was done, noting it turns over management of the project to the Army Corps of Engineers. He said the corps will report regularly to Congress on progress.

Congress stripped the VA of the authority to manage large construction projects in the future when it approved the additional money in September. The Corps of Engineers will handle such projects in the future.

The 184-bed medical center in Aurora will replace an old, overcrowded hospital in Denver.

The new facility is a collection of a dozen large buildings connected by a long, soaring, glass-walled corridor. It’s near the University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Work on the VA medical center had been moving slowly since December, when a panel of judges ruled the VA breached the original contract by insisting on a design that couldn’t be built for the agreed-upon price.

The project was estimated to cost about $583 million in 2010 but had been rising steadily since then.

The VA has said the top executives on the project at the time of the mistakes have retired or been transferred or demoted, but members of Congress have been demanding that those responsible be fired.

Coffman said he was disappointed to learn Friday that the VA might not release the results of one of its internal investigations into what went wrong until next year.

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Frank2525
Frank2525
6 years ago

Finally I can begin to see completion. Much too late for my peers who have worked with me since 1991, when we saw that Lowry and Fitzsimons was going to be closed under BRAC. That occurred in 1994 Air Force (Lowry) and 1997 (Army – Fitzsimons). I have my opinion on why we lost both facilities, though it turned out to be economic bonus for Aurora and Denver (Colorado as a whole). But that was not assured in 1994. We had many anxious, stressful meetings over the years, and much lobbying, educating, and unfortunately many of those early and consistent peers are now deceased.
This is a much larger and more complete facility than originally discussed, with added clinics and needs established by Veterans returning from Middle East, and aging from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Middle East. Change of presidents, legislators, staff, aides, veterans, veteran leaders, with opposition and support through the years. Thanks for all the supporters, and I remember those who opposed, in Washington, in State, and within our veteran ranks. Has been a long fight. Thanks to Rep. Mike Coffman for holding feet to the fire these last years, to ensure funding. Also for those legislators from other states who supported our efforts, as well as all Colorado Legislators who maintained support through out. The travel, expense, effort has been worthwhile. United Veterans Committee of Colorado
(UVC) supported with meetings, and lobbying of State and Federal Officials to represent all Colorado Military Veteran-Retiree Organizations and affiliates in Colorado. (added comment: This facility, co-located with other hospitals and research facilities, will be a medical center to rival all others in years to come.). .

Joe Hardhat
Joe Hardhat
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank2525

The new VA hospital in Aurora will be a gem. It’s too bad there was so much waste, fraud and abuse. Just today Rep Coffman expressed his concerns about possible fraud.

Frank2525
Frank2525
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe Hardhat

Same stuff I contended with in the 1940s when as a 15 year old, I worked on highway 250 in Harrison County, Ohio, between my Sophomore and Junior year of high school. Cost Plus job, for State highway widening, hardening, and paving, raising the highway to level above where water behind dam built in 1930s, would rise.
I walked where the dozers and shovels cut down hillside to grade level, and used the dirt and rocks for fill to raise in the valley. No tree roots grow 60,70,90 feet deep, but my job was to keep walking, pick up roots, back and forth, and every so often someone would drive through in pickup and throw out some roots and other debris for me to find. At that time, whatever the expenses were for labor, etc. (meticously recorded by bookkeepers) was paid, plus 10% for profit. So Costs had to be kept up.
Being temporary summer worker, I did not have to join a union, though Ohio was, and still was very much Union all my life, until John Kasich (not presidential candidate) became Governor and broke through a lot of that.
REASON I WILL NOT VOTE FOR HIM. HE NEEDS TO STAY THERE AND BREAK THE BACK OF UNION MORE. They drove most of employment out of Harrison County, other than the city, police, firemen, teachers, and are still entrenched in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and other nearby cities with high government employees. (Hence Civil Service – a federal union in action, if not in name, and also having separate unions so skills can be specialized).
ANY GOVERNMENT CONTRACT LIKE THIS WAS, WILL DRAW THE PARASITES, LIKE HORSEFLIES TO MANURE. Plus built in CYA (cover my axx, by signing on with me) which delays any work and changes for months and years. Drives up cost, and responsible ones die, resign, retire, or transfer.
THEN BLIND THEM WITH PAPERWORK.
Been there, Joe, and it slowed me in military, if I had to get signatures of anyone above my immediate supervisors.
INEVITABLE. AND NO WAY TO GET AWAY FROM IT, BUT CORPS OF ENGINEERS WILL MOVE PROJECTS MUCH FASTER, AND WITHIN THE CONTRACTS.

Frank2525
Frank2525
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe Hardhat

2nd comment on this: Also remember Lowry, Fitzsimons, and VAMC served over 17 states before within each operation. Regular flights came into Fitzsimons weekly bring army patients, and returning them to where they came from after surgery, or healing. New facility had many more applications-clinics-requirements placed on it, rather than just building exact replacement in new location.
Any government contract that has to be approved and signed for at local, state, federal, congressional, presidential levels is guaranteed to have extended building and changing requirements and additions, as people die, transfer, retire, or are promoted. The new guy (genders not important) coming to authority position has to be sold on what has been, and will inject their own ideas or pet stuff, then demand others also agree.
Rep. Coffman, and Rep. Perlmutter, as well as all the others who fought for this legislatively are good people, but finding where fraud existed, waste existed, or other costs existed, will be very difficult to establish, and impossible to prosecute.
I AM NOT A PESSAMIST, JUST PRAGMATIC. BEEN THERE, BEEN INVOLVED, EVEN AS ENLISTED MILITARY SENIOR NCO, during my 26 years 18 days. Got to go to Pentagon for a week, in case there was questions on a Top Secret project on my 2nd enlistment, as a SSgt (USAF) that eliminated whole career field ladder from Air Force, with attendant elimination in other intelligence services. Book prepared by our organization, and in that week there was not a single question by anyone. But I knew then, if ever asked, I did not want to work there full time. And paperwork could get lost there in quck time. Better to work with contacts on phone, for the field, which I did for that assignment, from W-PAFB, Ohio.

Erica Tilton
Erica Tilton
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank2525

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