Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet issued the following statement in response to the announcement that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has awarded a construction contract for the new Pikes Peak National Cemetery in Colorado Springs.
"Starting construction is a welcome step in the long wait that veterans and their families have endured to lay their loved ones to rest closer to home,” Bennet said. “We are grateful that this cemetery will serve an area with one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the nation.”
The $31,843,000 construction contract was awarded to G&C Fab-Con, LLC, a service disabled veteran-owned small business. The cemetery is scheduled for full completion in 2019 and will develop approximately 13,500 internment sites.
Bennet has worked for eight years to establish the 374-acre cemetery, which will serve roughly 95,000 veterans. Currently, the nearest cemetery for veterans and their families is more than 70 miles away. Bennet secured the funding necessary for the project in Fiscal Year 2017.
Bennet worked with former Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Doug Lamborn to bring a national cemetery to southern Colorado. In 2009, Bennet sponsored legislation with Udall to create the cemetery, and in 2010, the President's budget request included language that reduced the population threshold used to determine where new national veterans cemeteries could be built from 170,000 to 80,000 veterans living within 75 miles of a potential site. This language, which followed a meeting Bennet held with then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, allowed the VA to build a cemetery in southern Colorado. In October 2013, following a rigorous review process that included public meetings and a public comment period, the VA announced it had agreed to purchase land for this preferred site in Colorado Springs.