VA to open negotiations aimed at restarting construction on Aurora hospital

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DENVER -- Progress on getting construction workers back on the job at the new Veterans Affairs Hospital in Aurora is underway.

Negotiations between contractors Kiewit-Turner and the Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson will Wednesday after Gibson came to Colorado.

It has been almost a week after a court ruled the VA breached its contract with Kiewit-Turner. After the ruling, the contractor pulled out of the job and let 1,400 employees go. Part of the legal fight was the price tag to complete the job. It skyrocketed from $604 million to more than $1 billion.

“If they delay this project further, if they stop work and they abandon this project and restart it later on, the cost is going to be astronomical,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora.

He said the VA has the funds to complete the job, but it will mean putting other construction projects on hold.

“These are projects that haven’t started, that haven’t broken ground vs. a project that is half built," he said. "Yeah, it’s a tough decision the VA has to make.”

Coffman, whose district is where the new hospital is being built, said if the VA reallocates the money, congressional leaders can go back to Congress to make up the funds.

“They certainly can make the case, to the Congress, that Congress needs to make up the difference," Coffman said. "The difference for their mismanagement of the project that caused it to be hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.”

In a statement, Kiewit-Turner wrote: “We received correspondence from the VA in an important first step in getting all workers back on the job and completing this project for Colorado-area veterans. ...

“We will be meeting with Deputy Secretary Gibson this week to discuss the critical concepts necessary to moving this project forward as soon as possible.”

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