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Virginia Hospital Expansion: General Meetings

VHC and Skanska will host general meetings with the public Monday July 15 and Wednesday July 18 at 7:00 pm at the hospital’s main auditorium. All are invited to attend.

Most of us know that our local hospital is expanding, and construction activities have already begun.  Your Tara Leeway Heights Civic Association invited Virginia Hospital Center officials to meet with our community in June to help us prepare for this large project and to answer your questions. We are pleased to share with you what we heard from senior hospital representatives and executives from general contractor Skanska, a worldwide construction firm headquartered in Sweden but with extensive U.S. operations.

 

As a reminder, the Virginia Hospital Center has long been planning an ambitious but necessary expansion northward along George Mason Drive to N. 19th St. This would increase the hospital’s campus by roughly 50% to accommodate increased patient, physician and visitor space requirements.

 

Flagmen have already been directing traffic along George Mason Drive between 16th and 19th Streets, so the project is already underway.

 

Here are the highlights of what we learned during our public meeting with senior hospital and construction executives:

 

Community Liaison

  • VHC and Skanska will host general meetings with the public Tuesday July 16 and Thursday July 18 at 7:00 pm at the hospital’s main auditorium. All are invited to attend.

  • Going forward and as the project intensifies, the VHC/Skanska group’s plan is to hold a quarterly meeting the first Tuesday of each quarter at 7:00 at the hospital’s Hazel Auditorium. The first such meeting would prospectively be held on Tuesday, October 3.

  • There is a Skanska app called Project Corners (projectcorners.com) where project updates will be posted.

  • The VHC website (below) also has recent information.

  • VHC email: vhcliaison@virginiahospitalcenter.com; construction hotline: 703-558-5994 (you will get a request to leave a voicemail)

  • project website: https://www.virginiahospitalcenter.com/patients/new_pavilion.aspx

 

Construction Hauling Route

  • All large truck access to the hospital will funnel to the site from the intersection of Lee Highway & George Mason Dr.

  • From North/West:  Route 66 to Route 7 (Broad Street in Falls Church) to Lee Highway

  • From East/South: Route 395 to N. Glebe Rd. to Lee Highway

  • There will be no accessing the site directly from Route 66 or Washington Blvd. (this is a site plan condition)

  • Subcontractors plan to avoid rush hour if at all possible; they plan to arrive before 7:00 am, and finish by 4:00 pm.

  • No nighttime deliveries will be made and any nighttime work will be kept to a minimum.

  • Weekend work will be avoided as much as possible.

 

Construction Parking & Site Logistics

  • Onsite parking is strictly reserved for project foremen.

  • Workers will take public transportation from Ballston Garages (leasing spaces) or East Falls Church metro

  • Using off-site parking in other private lots and providing 3 shuttles which will run every 15 minutes

  • Peak manpower will be during the last 18 months of the project (2021-2022) will use the new garage

  • No neighborhood on-street parking is allowed; workers who violate this rule will lose their jobs working on the project

  • VHC even offered to buy No Parking signs for everyone within 10 blocks of the hospital but Arlington County raised concerns about restricting access so broadly to public streets.

 

  • Miscellaneous

Rodents – Such a major construction project displaces lots of wild creatures. A pest control plan was required as part of the permitting process; Skanska will use the same company already used by VHC. This is an ongoing process throughout construction, and Skanska plans to stay on top of it.

One of our public attendees requested a “warm hotline,” i.e., someone to answer calls and immediately/respond. He noted that residents should be part of the process as construction priorities change, if feasible. VHC will look into this request.

Another question was raised about handling storm water draining during construction. A plan to retain water on site has already been submitted.

One attendee asked about how the county was handling the process for permitting. This project is taking the company longer than the contractor is accustomed to and has been complicated. They are optimistic that the permitting process will nonetheless not slow down the overall schedule, as they began the permitting process early.

Here is the current rough overall general project timeline:

Now – December: Site prep, utility work, building demolition. Major demolition likely to begin after Labor Day.

January – March 2020: Site excavation. Serious construction begins.

June 2021: Completion of new parking garage.

December 2022: New patient pavilion complete; project finished.

As with any such large project, issues will arise. After our meeting, we were encouraged by the commitment of the hospital and general contractor to minimize their impact on our community.