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Posted 3/30/2018

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By Sara Corbett

A parking spot isn’t something most people give much thought to, except when they’re having a problem finding one. The solution to this problem is one that the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District are putting a lot of thought into. The Dorn VAMC, located in Columbia, SC, has a big parking problem and to solve it the Corps is providing them support by overseeing the construction of a new parking garage that will provide 278 parking spots for the veterans and their families that visit the Dorn VAMC.

“We are always looking for ways to support our veterans,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Palazzini, Charleston District commander. “The new parking garage is only 50 feet away from the entrance, which will provide easy and accessible parking. It’s our pleasure to do this for these heroes who fought for our freedom.”

A groundbreaking celebration for the garage happened on February 23. This $8 million project was awarded to Billy W. Jarrett Construction Company, Inc., which is a certified service-disabled veteran-owned small business contractor and one of the reasons they were awarded the project. Construction will begin in March and is scheduled to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2019.

Construction for this project is broken into three phases; phase one is relocating the perimeter of a road 50 feet to the west to make room for the parking garage, phase two is demolition of the existing surface parking lot and preparing the site and footprint for construction, and phase three is the construction of the three-story parking garage.
“There has been an influx of patients visiting Dorn VAMC because of the great of services they provide to veterans in the Columbia area,” said Jim Whiteman, chief of the interagency and international services branch. “The parking garage will have 97 spots on the ground level, 120 spots on the second level and 69 spots on the partial third level.”

The parking garage is the first of five projects estimated at $40 million that the Corps will construct at the Dorn VAMC over the next three years. The projects include a medical clinic, rehabilitation center, prosthetics and sensory aide center, and behavioral health center of excellence.

All of these projects are necessary to ensure that veterans and their families receive the best medical care possible. Despite being only a few months into FY 2018, Dorn VAMC has already served more than 80,000 veterans and in FY 2017 they tended to approximately one million patients.

“It’s an honor to provide support to Dorn VAMC and the veterans they serve,” said Palazzini. “I look forward to getting these projects underway and providing the world-class facilities that veterans and their families deserve.”