HOUSTON – New parking structures are in the works for the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC). The project, scheduled to begin in February, is expected to provide much-needed parking relief for a medical center that logged more than one million outpatient visits last fiscal year.

“The DeBakey VA currently has a parking deficit of about 1,200 parking spaces,” said Mouris K. Ibrahim, MEDVAMC Planning and Construction chief. “New parking garages will tremendously improve Veteran access to their health care providers.”

With the number of outpatient visits to the Houston VA campus doubling in the last ten years, parking has become a serious problem for Veterans, volunteers, visitors, and staff. Efforts have been made in the past few years to increase parking availability, but a more dramatic strategy had to be taken to address the issue.

“The facility already expanded surface parking with an additional 480 parking spaces,” said Ibrahim. “However, this new parking project will provide vertical expansion, and is a better option to reduce walking distances and use our property more efficiently.”

The parking project will be completed in two phases.

Phase one includes the construction of a four to six-story parking structure near the Almeda gate that will house 200 cars. This garage is scheduled to be completed in December 2012. Phase two is an expansion to phase one with an additional 400 spaces and is expected to be completed by September 2013.

Future plans include the construction of a second parking garage near the Old Spanish Trail entrance to house 600 cars. It is scheduled to begin construction in 2017.

Some parking spaces will be displaced while construction takes place; however, steps have been taken to mitigate this situation.

“We are in the process of leasing 300 off-site parking spaces,” said Ibrahim. “The leased parking will be nearby and a free shuttle bus service will be provided.”

The parking project is yet another demonstration of MEDVAMC’s commitment to provide the best care anywhere to our Nation’s heroes.

“The new parking garages will definitely increase patient satisfaction,” said Ibrahim. “Going to the doctor usually is not something to look forward to, so we want to make the visit as easy and trouble-free as possible.”