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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs has chosen the Brownsboro Road/Watterson Expressway "Midlands" site for the new Louisville VA Medical Center.
The agency announced the decision late Thursday. It was immediately followed by statements from Sen. Mitch McConnell, (R) Kentucky and Louisville Rep. John Yarmuth, (D) Kentucky praising the project. However, McConnell never publicly stated a preference for any site.
The other location under consideration was Factory Lane, east of the Gene Snyder Freeway and LaGrange Road. Other community leaders had argued for a site downtown near University of Louisville and other hospitals.
The VA says the new hospital will cost an estimated $883.2 million and should open in 2018. It will replace the current, 60-year-old VA medical center on Zorn Avenue in Louisville.
The site borders the Watterson Expressway, Brownsboro Road and a residential development. Some neighbors had complained of not receiving enough notice that the site was under consideration. They worried about traffic and noise.
"I'm honestly disappointed because I don't think it's the best or most appropriate spot for that hospital," said John Lepping, a Crossgate resident. "The area as it is already is extremely strangled with traffic already."
The state of Kentucky has begun road construction work that should ease some traffic congestion in the area.
Developer Blue Equity originally sought to build a shopping center on the site. It later turned to the VA project.
Blue Equity spokesman Bob Gunnell said the company is "very proud" the site is chosen for "such a noble purpose."
The VA says it now must begin master planning and design for the hospital, which will house various clinics and 110 inpatient beds. The new facility will have "a geriatric and extended care program, a home-based primary care program, an a substance abuse residential rehabilitation treatment program," a VA news release said.
Late Thursday afternoon, McConnell's office released the following statement:
"Now that the Department of Veterans Affairs has finally selected a location for the Robley Rex VA Medical Center, work can begin on the new state-of-the-art facility, which will ensure that the men and women who so bravely served our country will receive the quality health care they deserve."
Congressman John Yarmuth's office also released a statement:
"The decision to build the new hospital at the Brownsboro Road/Watterson Expressway site ensures that state-of-the-art health care will be available as quickly as possible for current and future veterans."