By CBS4 Reporter Dillon Thomas
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– For Korean War Veteran Bernie Rogoff, building awareness around the success of a fully functioning Denver VA Hospital has been a top priority.
“Access is number one,” Rogoff said. “Getting the patient in, getting them to understand how to get in.”
However, even though the hospital has not opened, Rogoff said one of the biggest problems has become getting disabled veterans from the nearby RTD light rail stop, into the hospital.
When the hospital opens in 2018, veterans could use RTD’s R Line to get to the hospital.
However, there currently are currently no covered walkways which would provide disabled veterans a safe and covered route to the hospital from the light rail stop. Veterans who ride the train to the hospital would have to ride an elevator to the ground level, and walk almost 900 feet to get to the hospital.
Those veterans would also have to cross Potomac Street, all of which would be on uncovered sidewalks susceptible to inclement weather.
“It is not even an accident, it borders on criminal negligence,” Rogoff said of the plans. “We built a $1.6 billion hospital and resisted what would have been a simple solution to getting our patients into the hospital.”
Rogoff has called on RTD, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and City of Aurora officials to team up and complete “Project Eagle.”
Rogoff said the $7 million to $10 million project would create a raised walkway from the RTD stop directly to the hospital, all for the benefit of the patients.
“There are patients who the hospital was built for, patients who are going to use the RTD corridor, and we didn’t provide a way for them to get into the hospital,” Rogoff said.
Rogoff added, in comparison to the VA hospital’s over budget price tag, the convenience bridge should be considered.
“We need to get the pedestrian bridge built and is speaks for itself,” Rogoff said.
A spokesman for RTD told CBS4 a project of this nature would be up to the VA to design, adding that RTD would be open to hearing proposals about the bridge.
CBS4 reached out to the VA for comment. A spokesman said the project would be something for the Army Corps of Engineers to handle.