LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Engineers are eight months into construction to build a new VA hospital in Louisville, and this week, they hit a major benchmark: the first visible structure assembled on the site right near the Watterson Expressway.
"We went vertical for the first time this week," said Tim Hitchcock, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). "[You can see] a building starting to come together."
During a tour of the project site Thursday, Hitchcock, the area engineer, told WHAS11 they're doing preliminary work on what will be the basement of the western portion of the medical center. Since construction started in Dec. 2021, USACE has spent much of their time drilling, solidifying the foundation before building.
"We were building the ground up routinely, and now we're where we need to be," Hitchcock said.
Crews began to pump concrete along the structure walls, and they hope to bring in steel beams at some point in August.
"[It's] a modern, patient-centered facility coming up before their eyes," Louisville VA Public Affairs Specialist Jarrad Hensley said.
The VA hopes to bring improved care to Kentuckiana veterans, both for physical and mental health challenges. The plan is to replace the aging Robley Rex VA Medical Center on Zorn Avenue.
The new facility will have more than 100 beds, which is equal to the current hospital, but will be twice the size. Hensley said it'll allow for more efficient care.
The new hospital, set to span more than 900,000 square feet, will also have nearly 1,000 more parking spaces and a women's health clinic, seen as long overdue.
"Women veterans make up the second-fastest growing segment of the veteran population," Hensley said.
Over the last several months, people have voiced concerns over what this will do to traffic flow, and whether the area along the 4900 block of Brownsboro Road can handle the influx.
Concerned drivers feel developers picked a bad location... saying current roads in that area can't handle an influx in traffic.
As of summer 2022, the Kentucky Department of Transportation is studying traffic patterns in the area and says it has plans for new exit ramps to help ease the burden.
The $840 million-dollar project broke ground on Veterans Day 2021.
Engineers said they've taken more frequent breaks because of the recent heat wave, but they say work is still being completed on schedule.
The new hospital is set to open in 2026.
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