WASHINGTON (September 29, 2009)—The Department of Defense has approved a proposal by Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco to build the new $1 billion Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in a single phase beginning next year rather than in two phases spread out over nearly a decade, which was the Pentagon’s original plan.
Carter and Edwards said Fort Hood officials told them that the proposal would save taxpayers more than $100 million.
Under the original plan, work on the first phase of the hospital, which includes a clinic building and an ancillary building that will house radiology, labs and other departments is scheduled to begin next year and should be completed by 2013 at a cost of $621 million.
Work on the second phase, which includes a five-story tower, would to begin in 2016 and should be completed by 2019 at a cost of $350 million.
“Combining Phase I and II would be a win for the taxpayer and our military families,” Carter said.
“We would save on construction costs, and improve health services more quickly. With the majority of funds remaining unspent and unclaimed, we could put those funds to use right now on this project for the benefit of all.”
Edwards, who joined Carter to submit the proposal to the Pentagon in July, said the expedited construction schedule would mean a more rapid upgrade of services for veterans and retirees.
“No military installation in America has sent more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan than Fort Hood. Fort Hood troops and their families deserve a new, modern hospital that will provide them more timely, world-class medical care while saving taxpayer dollars,” Edwards said.
“Also, by utilizing the full $927 million for both phases in 2010, we will positively impact the Central Texas economy, including the Waco area.”
The new Fort Hood hospital will be built where Fort Hood Stadium now stands.
It will replace the Vietnam-era Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center that now serves more than 42,000 active duty troops and more than 145,000 family members and retirees within a 40-mile radius.
The existing hospital was built in 1965 at a cost of $6 million.
It underwent a major $49.7 million expansion that started in 1979 and wasn’t completed until 1984.
Since early 2003, more than 2,200 soldiers who were wounded or fell ill in Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated at Darnall, which Fort Hood says is the largest number of any Army hospital in the U.S. and the third highest in the country behind only Walter Reed and Eisenhower Medical Centers.
The hospital now has more than 2,400 staff members.