Actions postpone next month’s ground breaking on new Martin Army Community Hospital
By LILY GORDON – Saturday, Mar. 20, 2010 – The Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has revoked a design-build contract for replacing the Martin Army Community Hospital on Fort Benning, leaving construction on the 745,000-square-foot facility at a stand-still.
On Sept. 28, 2009, the Corps awarded a $333 million contract to Turner Construction Company Inc., of Huntsville, Ala., and its design partner, Ellerbe/Becket of New York, N.Y.
On Feb. 16, the Government Accountability Office upheld two protests against the awarding of the contract to Turner and Ellerbe/Becket, finding two organizational conflicts of interest, a Corps release said. As a result of its findings, the GAO recommended that the two companies be eliminated from the competition and that the Corps award a new contract.
Turner was ordered to suspend work on the Benning construction site on Feb. 26 after the GAO made its decision. Since then, the Corps has been considering whether to implement the GAO’s recommendations. It announced Friday that it would.
The Corps’ Savannah District will now determine a timeline for the awarding of a new contract for the hospital’s construction. Until then, the ground breaking, which was scheduled for early next month, has been postponed, said Billy Birdwell, a spokesman with the Savannah District.
U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop said last week the delay has nothing to do with funding.
“The money is there,” Bishop said. “There will be a hospital. It may just take them a little longer to break ground.”
The new medical facility will be nearly twice as large as the existing 393,000-square-foot hospital, which was built more than 50 years ago. It will have 70 in-patient beds and two wings — one for clinics and one for the hospital. There will be two parking garages.
The existing facility on Marne Road, which dates to 1918, will remain open and will continue to support and provide daily care for active-duty soldiers, reservists, retirees, civilian employees and their family members, said Fort Benning spokeswoman Jennifer S. Gunn.
“While we realize that we’re all excited about this new hospital, the bottom line is that we support the United States Army Corps of Engineers, their process and these recommendations,” said Col. Thomas Macdonald, Fort Benning Garrison Commander.
When reached for comment Friday, Chris McFadden, vice president of communications for Turner Corporate in New York, said he had no knowledge of the contract revocation. Other officials with the company could not be reached Friday evening. Additionally, officials with the GAO also could not be reached for comment.