The Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center will be adding more parking spaces for the hospital.
An 80-million dollar package aimed at improving the center begins with their first project of adding a new, three and a half story parking garage that will add an additional 278 parking spaces.
The construction will take place right behind the mental health building. The garage will be located about 50 feet away from the building entrance.
The VA will also have shuttles available to help navigate people in and around the campus.
This parking project has been in the works for seven years. Friday marked the beginning of phase 1 and construction will start within the next month.
"The parking garage was designed to have built into it a phase two where we will be adding an additional 150 spaces in addition to the 278 built from phase one," Dorn VA Medical Center director David Omura said.
New spaces should be visible within 12 to 18 months.
"The biggest take away with this parking garage is that we will offer our veterans the much needed parking spaces that they need each and every day. There's not a day on this campus that you don't see every parking space filled up and you even find some veterans looking for a creative way to park on our property," Omura said. "This will provide them appropriate parking and will allow them to get in and out of their appointments much easier."
Along with a new parking garage, the Dorn VA was recently approved for more than $80-million in new construction and renovation projects.
This is just the start to many changes the VA will see in the up coming years.
Omura explained that the community of Columbia and the state will actually see a brand new VA in the next year and a half to two years. There will be a new mental health center of excellence, a new rehab building, a new prosthetics building, a new eye center and a new police building.
"We will be taking a 20 thousand square foot, beautiful facility on our campus and renovating back to its former splender to enhance primary care services," Omura said.