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VA Plans To Spend $180 Million For Parking Lot At New Denver Hospital

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

A new cost estimate for the Department of Veterans Affairs facility under construction in Denver includes $180 million dollars for three parking complexes.

The amount is almost three times as much as what was originally proposed in 2011, but the complexes come with added features, such as solar-power panels and solar water collectors and are specifically designed so as to minimize the risk of suicide for veterans, The Denver Post reports.

Additionally, the VA plans to construct the complexes with “pop-up bollards” to stop a terrorist attack in its tracks, should the need ever arise.

This is only part of the reason the cost ballooned from $66.5 million to the current estimate of $180 million for the lots. One of the parking garages jumped from $22 million to $78 million this year. When finished, the complexes should hold 2,250 cars.

Like other parts of the budget, the parking complexes were affected by poor budget planning and little to no oversight.

As of March, the total cost of the facility comes to $1.73 billion dollars.

Lawmakers have also taken notice of other projects eating into the hospital’s construction budget. Included in the proposal is a vivarium, that is, a holding area for large and small animals. VA officials also have in mind a building for horticultural therapy.

“This is not an art museum, it’s a hospital to serve those who served us, and it’s clear the VA does not get that,” GOP Rep. Mike Coffman told The Denver Post in a statement.

In late May, a reluctant Congress gave in to a plea from Secretary Robert McDonald and provided short-term funding, so that construction wouldn’t grind to a halt and result in a higher overall cost for the hospital. (RELATED: SecVA: Construction Of Denver Hospital Will GRIND To A Halt Sunday Without Congressional Funds)

At first it appeared that the standoff wouldn’t resolve, but following a rally of veterans in front of the Aurora facility, Congress relented. The hospital’s contractor, Kiewit-Turner, stated that restarting construction work would cost $250 million dollars. (RELATED: Veterans Rally At Aurora Hospital To Advocate For Completion)

This fall, the VA will require another infusion of funds.

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