Veterans Affairs picks site for new hospital in Louisville
By BRUCE SCHREINER
Oct. 20, 2017
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Capping more than a decade of reviews and debate, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said Friday it has selected a suburban site for a new hospital in Kentucky's largest city.
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin signed off on the location— a 35-acre tract off Brownsboro Road several miles east of downtown Louisville — in an order made public Friday.
The new 104-bed hospital would replace the Robley Rex VA Medical Center, which opened in the 1950s east of downtown. The VA said it expects the new hospital's design to be completed in 2018, but a construction timeline hasn't been finalized for the estimated $925 million project.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a longtime advocate for the new hospital, said veterans "deserve to receive quality health care in a new, modern facility" but have already waited for more than a decade for it to be built.
"That is way too long," the Kentucky Republican said in a statement. "Today's announcement moves us one step closer. It's time to build the new facility."
The area's congressman, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, sounded relieved a site selection had been made. Talk of a new VA hospital has spanned all or parts of three presidencies.
"I'm glad that this thorough review process has been completed and I look forward to continuing to work with all the stakeholders as this important project finally moves forward," Yarmuth said in a statement.
The project would still require congressional approval for construction funds.
The federal government bought the tract of vacant land off Brownsboro Road five years ago for $12.9 million. But the project had drawn complaints from some nearby residents who raised concerns about traffic congestion.
The VA said it would push for transportation upgrades near the new hospital, including widening nearby roads.
The debate about the new hospital's location had drawn in federal lawmakers and city leaders. Other possible sites mentioned had included the city's downtown medical district and in western Louisville.
The Louisville VA hospital serves a 35-county region of Kentucky and southern Indiana. The current hospital and its outpatient clinics serve about 150,060 veterans, the VA said. Veterans will continue receiving care at the Robley Rex facility off Zorn Avenue during the construction process.