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Not just Denver: VA problems in Florida, Louisiana, Nevada

DENVER (AP) — The $1 billion cost overrun at the Denver veterans hospital is the VA’s worst construction problem, but the department also had difficulties at health care facilities in New Orleans, Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida. A look at those projects:

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NEW ORLEANS: A new veterans hospital is expected to cost $995 million and be completed in February 2016. The initial estimate was $625 million with a completion date in December 2014. The Government Accountability Office said the initial plan was to build and operate a hospital with Louisiana State University, but veterans objected so the VA decided to build its own facility, increasing the cost. The GAO said contractors were brought into the design process too late, requiring changes that added to the price. The project was delayed while existing structures on the site were demolished and hazardous materials were removed.

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LAS VEGAS: A new hospital opened in August 2012 and cost about $600 million. The initial estimate was $325 million with an opening date of April 2009. The Government Accountability Office said the project was initially planned to be a clinic on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, but the VA decided it needed a much larger hospital with more services and facilities instead. New security requirements after the 9/11 attacks and escalating materials costs also drove up the price.

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ORLANDO, FLORIDA: A new hospital began seeing its first patients in February, and different services are being phased in. The most recent cost estimate was about $600 million. The initial estimate was $254 million with a completion date of April 2010. The Government Accountability Office said some parts of the newly built facility had to be torn out to accommodate medical equipment. The site location changed three times before construction started, and disputes with contractors over change orders contributed to delays.

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