Biloxi VA expansion is well underway and going smoothly

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's the largest expansion in the history of the Biloxi VA. Work is underway on a $310 million improvement project. Once finished, it will nearly double the size of the medical care facility.

The Biloxi VA campus will be under construction for the foreseeable future with six projects, six contractors and hundreds of construction workers.

"It started out as a long term strategic plan. But then with Katrina, we just kind of ramped things up and we're doing it all at once," said Project Coordinator Gary Butterfield.

A giant auger digs the 60 foot deep pilings for the 95,000 square foot mental health facility.  Nine hundred auger driven pilings will be used for this single building.

"We have three buildings, mental health, extended care and blind rehab that will all be opening between the summer of 2011. And then a clinical addition that will come on line about a year later, in the summer of 2012," Butterfield said.

"We're going to be able to provide a lot more services than we do now. We're going to have the blind rehab, which is something we don't have anything related to right now. And we'll be able to do more with the community living center and the mental health buildings, just to start off with and those are some of the first to come on line," said Public Affairs Director Roy Griggs.

Despite the construction maze, existing services to veterans won't be interrupted by the work.

"Part of what makes it really unique is that while we're building all these buildings at one time, with different contractors, we're still maintaining full operations of the hospital, full service to the veterans. And it's just going really smooth," Butterfield said.

This is just the beginning of the work. These new buildings represent just half of the $310 million allocated for the Biloxi VA expansion and improvements.

Additional work will include some more new construction along with a complete rehab of many of the older buildings.

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