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Neighbors, businesses concerned about VA hospital location after project launched

Traffic concerns have plagued efforts to build a VA hospital on Brownsboro Road. Organizers announced plans Tuesday, but some in the area still aren't on board.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Years of planning have gone into building a new VA hospital near the Holiday Manor shopping center on Brownsboro Road. Construction on the Louisville VA Medical Center is set to start this fall, but some neighbors still aren’t on board.

Ongoing concerns about traffic have plagued the project, with some saying it’s the right idea in the wrong place.

One business owner tells WHAS traffic is already impossible during rush hour, with the interstate so close by.

Joanie Allgeier from the Crossgate neighborhood said traffic is her biggest concern too. She said the neighborhood supports healthcare for veterans but believes there’s a better way to go about the project.

District 7 Metro Councilmember Paula McCraney has heard complaints about the project for years.

"It just seems like it’s all at one time and the constituents are very concerned,” she said. "I don't know that any of the minds have ever been eased or will be eased, because it’s very tight and dense in that particular area."

The ball is already rolling. A Chicago firm won a $840 million contract and a groundbreaking is set for the fall.

RELATED: Officials: New $840M modern VA hospital headed to east Louisville

Veterans Club founder Jeremy Harrell said it can't come soon enough.

"I think it's going to be the 2021 way of taking care of veterans and it's going to be set up to do better procedures and some alternative modalities as well,” he said.

Harrell said the location is an improvement over the Robley Rex on Zorn Avenue. He said Watterson access makes travel easier and there will be better parking constructed with the facility.

"Freedom to me is worth an extra 5 or 10 minutes in my day,” he said of the traffic issue.

Local concerns came up immediately. Dr. Stephen Black with the Robley Rex VA Medical Center addressed them during an announcement for the project Tuesday.

He said the VA will work closely with cities to advocate for traffic improvements.

"Designs have been created for increased and improved traffic flow on and off Brownsboro road and onto 71,” he said.

Neighbors said they want opportunities for veterans. They're just worried this isn't the right fit.

McCraney says any project benefitting vets is good for District 7, but one that will have to tread carefully.

"We will be keeping a close eye on every part of the construction,” she said.

The hospital is set to be complete in 2025.

RELATED: New Greenwood VA clinic to begin seeing patients next week

RELATED: Resources available for veterans distressed by Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

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