Nearly eight years after the Defense Department held a groundbreaking ceremony in Germany for a new hospital to replace Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, construction on the building is set to begin, Defense Health Agency officials announced Jan. 19.
Despite the event in October 2014 that heralded construction of the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center Replacement, no walls have actually been built. And the original goal to complete the facility in 2022 has been pushed to 2027.
According to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman, the groundbreaking represented "the beginning of the overall campus project," and since then, more than $200 million in infrastructure has been built, including an access control point, bridge, utilities, roads and environmental impact mitigation.
The 1950s-era Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is renowned for being the first stop for service members wounded in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere. Patients across the years have included the wounded from the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon; those injured on the guided missile destroyer Cole in 2000; and the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Civilians also have been sent to Landstuhl: Its surgeons famously treated ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt when the vehicle they were filming in struck a roadside bomb near Baghdad in 2006.
The new facility, roughly seven miles from Landstuhl, will employ roughly 2,500 people and also house the 86th Medical Group clinic, now at Ramstein Air Base.
Design of the center also has been underway for several years, a "complex process that required multiple design submittal iterations to resolve code conflicts prior to construction award to ensure a modern, world-class facility," said Catherine Bingham, medical program manager at the Corps of Engineers' Europe District.
"We are very proud of the hard work and collaboration between the U.S. and German partners," Bingham said in an email. "The whole team is focused on delivering this world class healthcare facility for our service members and their families."
The Defense Health Agency announced Jan. 19 that a $969 million contract has been signed with the companies Zublin and Gilbane under a joint venture.
The 985,000-square-foot facility is expected to serve roughly 200,000 service members, families and American civilians in Germany and throughout the region, with nine operating rooms, 120 exam rooms and 68 beds with a surge capacity for 25 more.
When work began on the replacement in 2014, its expected completion date was 2022. The timeline was revised in 2018 to December 2023, with a goal to be operational by 2024.
Now, according to the Defense Health Agency, the expected completion is in late 2027.
There had been concerns that the construction funds for the Landstuhl replacement project would be diverted for President Donald Trump's project to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, part of $21 billion in unobligated military construction funds that were marked for projects but not spent.
The DoD ultimately shifted $3.6 billion to help pay for the wall and later was to contribute an additional $6.4 billion, but the Landstuhl funds were not included.
President Joe Biden canceled funding for the border wall project on Jan. 20, 2021, allowing the DoD to reinvest $2.2 billion back into its planned projects.
Zublin is a construction company in Stuttgart that has built other U.S. military facilities in Germany; Gilbane was responsible for building Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia.
– Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.