‘R’ IS FOR ROLLING: R Line trek to VA hospital in Aurora could pose challenge for some veterans

268

AURORA | While the new R Line is bringing expanded transportation options to Aurora, some are still concerned it won’t be enough to get veterans where they need to be.

Patient advocate and Korean War veteran Bernie Rogoff has been asking for more than four years how veterans will get from the East Colfax Avenue light rail stop to the Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System Hospital on Wheeling Street, which is set to open in 2018 after years of budgeting problems.

“You can’t drop a guy with a walker or a wheelchair on that location at Potomac and have him walk 800 feet into the hospital,” Rogoff said in November 2016.

Rogoff started advocating for the pedestrian bridge in 2012 when hospital administrators first met with members of the Aurora Veterans Commission to discuss the issue.

The new elevated R line light rail stop is near the corner of East Colfax Avenue and Potomac Street. The main entrance to the upcoming VA hospital is on the east edge of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus off of Wheeling Street and faces west, the opposite direction of the light rail station.

Rogoff said he worked with the Greeley-based bridge construction company Big R Bridge to develop a formal proposal for recommendation to the city and the VA hospital. He said their estimate for the bridge in 2013 was as much as $7.5 million.

In November of last year, Pete Nieman, a sales manager with Big R Bridge, said he has had no contact with city, RTD or VA officials since that discussion three years ago.

The VA didn’t include plans for any sort of bridge for veterans to get from the light rail to the hospital because when the design plans for the hospital were drafted years ago, RTD officials said the I-225 light rail line wasn’t funded and wouldn’t be built for decades.

However, this is an alternative veterans can use if they don’t want to make the 800-foot trek to the front door.

The new CU Anschutz Medical Campus Rail Shuttle will debut the same day as the light rail, connecting with the R Line at the Fitzsimons Station on north Fitzsimons Parkway. The free shuttle will take veterans to the VA Hospital from the Fitzsimons Station, which is one stop away from the Colfax station.

The Fitzsimons light rail station is parallel to Tollgate Creek on Fitzsimons Parkway, and will be on the north side of Fitzsimons and just north of the hospital and the Anschutz Medical Campus. It will take less than five minutes to get to the hospital from that stop via shuttle. The first stop for that shuttle will drop veterans off around 500 feet from the VA hospital entrance at the intersection of Wheeling and East 17th Place.

MORE ON THE R LINE AND TRANSIT:

‘R’ IS FOR ROLLING: R Line trek to VA hospital in Aurora could pose challenge for some veterans

‘R’ IS FOR ROLLING: The R Line is a train of thought, Aurora. Go catch it

‘R’ IS FOR ROLLING: How Aurora’s light rail link became the train that could

‘R’ IS FOR ROLLING: New light rail R line brings light rail to much of Aurora — VIDEO TRAINERS

PERRY: ‘R’ is ready to ride, but the rest of the metro mass-transit system is off track