$450M Naval hospital project underway

A nearly half-billion dollar Naval Hospital project at Camp Pendleton in San Diego broke ground Thursday, with expectations of opening in January 2014, reports the North County Times. The undertaking--at $451 million--is the largest American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project for the Navy in terms of cost, and the second-largest Pentagon-funded ARRA project, trailing only a hospital construction effort at Ford Hood in Texas that will cost more than $500 million. 

The hospital--which will include 54 patient beds, as well as an ED, specialty-care clinics and several operating rooms--will replace the aging Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, which opened in 1974. According to Col. Nicholas Marano, the base's commander, as many as 1,000 construction workers a day will be assigned to the project. He called the hospital the signature piece of a $4 billion base makeover. 

"Today is a milestone for Camp Pendleton," he said, according to the Times

Initial projections pegged the four-story, 500,000-square-foot project's price tag at $563 million, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune, but costs ultimately came down due to the tough economic climate. The design includes atriums, according to the newspaper, to provide natural light for patients. 

"It is nothing like anything we have built before," Navy Capt. S. Keith Hamilton said. 

To learn more about the project:
- read the North County Times article
- here's the San Diego Union-Tribune piece