Tempers flare at meeting ahead of VA hospital groundbreaking

Published: Apr. 17, 2014 at 5:02 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2014 at 5:01 AM EDT
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The proposed location for the VA hospital.
The proposed location for the VA hospital.
Susan Hilbrecht
Susan Hilbrecht
Kirk Hilbrecht
Kirk Hilbrecht

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Tempers flared as would-be neighbors and veterans met to discuss plans for a controversial VA hospital in eastern Jefferson County on Wednesday.

Hectic traffic is one of the main concerns driving some to push for the brakes on the project which would be constructed on land along Brownsboro Road near the Watterson Expressway.

Susan Hilbrecht is against the project and said it would create a 45 minute commute. "I feel like the VA is doing a disservice to the veterans of this community," she said.

Her husband, Crossgate Mayor Kirk Hilbrecht, who is a veteran himself agreed. He said the move would risk the lives of those who have already risked it all.

"I might just die in traffic and that would just be a total shame for our national treasures," he said.

Project Manager George Odorizzi said the Kentucky Department of Transportation is working on solution.

"There are strategies that could be implemented to mitigate the traffic," Odorizzi said.

The session was supposed to gather input to help consultants start researching potential environmental impacts. At one point, the speaker called herself Sherlock Holmes, investigating if the project's site could lead to any red lights.

Although the land has already been purchased residents who are opposed haven't lost hope.

"Until the money is appropriated and the soil is broken, I'm going to keep speaking up to say that there are better options for our veterans," Susan Hilbrecht said.

The environmental study will evaluate resources for potential impacts such as aesthetics, air quality, noise, utilities and transportation concerns. A first draft of their project will be presented in July accompanied by a public comment session. The final report is expected to be complete in October. 

The community has until April 25 to send their suggestions or concerns to the VA at LouisvilleReplacementHospitalComments@va.gov.

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