AURORA, Colo. — Estimated costs for the new VA hospital in Aurora are going up again. Early estimates show the project could cost taxpayers $1.3 billion, but that price tag could go even higher according to several sources.
Congressional leaders were first told the cost would only be $600 million for the 184-bed facility near I-225 and East Colfax Avenue which has been plagued with numerous problems.
In 2013 there were delays because of design changes, cost overruns and a heated dispute between the VA and the construction companies. The dispute caused contractors Kiewit-Turner to walk off the job last December, forcing workers to be without jobs right before Christmas.
Congressman Mike Coffman, who represents Aurora, told FOX31 Denver Investigative Reporter Tak Landrock that he’s waiting for a final estimated cost by VA leaders. He needs that cost figure to help push legislation to raise the current $800 million spending cap. Without it, the job site would come to a halt by the end of May.
Coffman said there is a time crunch in getting legislation passed by congressional leaders, the Senate and signed into law by the President. Without raising how much the VA can spend, there will be no money to build the rest of the hospital.
“I think the worst thing we can do is abandon the hospital,” said Coffman. He is furious with VA leadership who he called incompetent. “The workers who are building this hospital cannot continue to worry that they will be laid off.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs released a written statement, “Construction activity at the Denver Replacement Hospital site continues per the current contract with Kiewit-Turner (KT) and there are no plans to shut down construction.
VA is in close collaboration with KT, Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to identify a long term solution. VA will continue to keep our stakeholders informed of our progress.”
“If the cost ends up as high as some of those predictions, it’s another indictment of the mismanagement of this project,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado. “The congressional delegation is working together to fix this mess and complete the hospital. Our veterans deserve nothing less. “