- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

AURORA, Colo. (AP) - Work on a new VA hospital in Aurora is expected to resume next week after a short-term deal was struck between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the facility’s prime contractor.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said in a statement Wednesday that the interim agreement will put workers back on the job as early as Monday.

A federal appeals board ruled last week that the VA had breached its contract with Kiewit-Turner because the agency wanted a facility that far exceeded the roughly $600 million allocated for the project.

According to the Denver Post (https://tinyurl.com/o949ypu ), one change to the project’s management is the inclusion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as an adviser. But as of Wednesday afternoon, there remained questions as to how the VA ultimately would pay to finish the facility.

“It’s still not clear how the VA plans to identify the additional funding to complete a permanent deal and it does not appear to be easy. We’ll continue to explore all options including reprogramming funds within the VA, providing the VA the authority it needs to make additional transfers, or any other means possible,” Bennet said.

He said the project has been “terribly mismanaged” by the VA from the start.

“To make problems worse, the VA insisted on dragging out wasteful litigation when mediation could have moved the project along. Today we’ve seen some progress, but there is a long way to go,” Bennet said.

Kiewit-Turner stopped construction after a federal board of appeals ruled the VA breached its contract.

The appeals board said the VA didn’t produce a design that could be built for the contracted $604 million, and the company says it could cost more than $1 billion. The board also found that the VA doesn’t have sufficient funds to pay for construction of the entire project as currently designed and has no plans to ask for more money.

The VA has argued the builder was involved in that design process and that the agency did not breach the contract. The VA also has rejected the contractor’s demands to be let out of the building contract.

The new hospital will replace an aging facility in east Denver. It will include a traumatic brain-injury center, nursing care and other clinics.


Information from: The Denver Post, https://www.denverpost.com

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