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Orlando VA Hospital's Builders Discuss Opening Dates, Cost Overruns

March 11, 2013 | WMFE - The unfinished Orlando VA Medical Center has been plagued with delays, disagreements and multi-million dollar cost overruns. Florida US Representatives John Mica and Corrine Brown toured the site of the new hospital Monday for a progress update.

[Image: Artist's rendering of Orlando's VA Medical Center, currently under construction]

Congressman Mica says progress on building the new medical center has been substantial. He says the more difficult news from the briefing is that the project is running $40 million over the original estimate.

“We have available funds to absorb that,” Mica notes. “We had saved about $20 million on the first four phases, so some of it will be a wash, but the good news is there is enough money set aside to complete the project, I’m told.” 

It's unclear whether more than the additional $40 million may eventually be required.

Mica says most of the 65-acre complex, which also includes a long-term care facility, transitional housing, and other services for veterans, could be open around the end of 2013. Congresswoman Corrine Brown joined her US House colleague in encouraging a timely completion of the project. The lawmakers say they may push to begin opening the complex in phases.

Early estimates placed the cost for the medical center near $665 million, and the facility was originally scheduled to open in October 2012. When it still wasn’t ready by February 2013, the VA filed court papers calling for the project’s main contractor Brasfield & Gorrie to address that and other concerns the VA brought forth, and offer solutions or risk being removed from the job.

In turn, the contractor blamed much of the delay on design and equipment changes to the hospital's radiology department, which they say were ordered by the VA after construction had already begun there. 

But lawmakers say tensions seem to be easing as work gets back on track.


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