FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has ranked an Indiana building as one its highest-priority construction projects.

The proposed VA budget for fiscal year 2019 ranks the construction of a "West Tower" at the Fort Wayne VA Medical Center as No. 8 on its list of 431 strategic capital investments, The Journal Gazette reported.

Tom Blackburn is the public affairs officer for the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System. He said plans are being drafted for the 27,000-square-foot, two-story addition to the main patient building.

Blackburn said the addition would mirror an ongoing construction project on the southeast side of the building, which calls for a sterilization processing facility for medical instruments and primary-care areas.

Construction would likely begin in fiscal 2021 and would be completed two years later.

The estimated cost of the project is $17.6 million. The budget for fiscal 2019 requests a total of $1.76 million. The budget requires congressional approval.

The budget also includes replacing the Fort Wayne VA center's boilers on its 422 non-recurring maintenance projects. It ranks 82nd in national priority and would cost $9.9 million. Ranked much lower is a basement remodel that Blackburn said would include a radiology suite, and the replacement of underground utilities and parking reconfiguration for nearly $8.3 million


Information from: The Journal Gazette,