ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- It appears to be ready for veterans, but a new clinic building at Jefferson Barracks has instead stood empty for years.
Now, veterans, senators and News 4 are demanding answers about why.
“I just don't understand that. As a veteran and as a taxpayer,” said Cindy Teigen.
Teigen served her country, but while in the Army, she learned she had rheumatoid arthritis. She gets treated for it and other health issues at Jefferson Barracks.
Driving around to her appointments at older buildings on the Jefferson Barracks campus, she noticed something surprising, a brand new, big medical clinic building.
It looks fully finished, the parking lot is landscaped and the windows are shining.
News 4 obtained pictures of the inside which show gleaming new gathering spaces and hallways, even the bathrooms appear ready to go.
At night, it's lit up burning electricity 24-7, according to employees who works in buildings nearby.
“To me, it appears like it’s a beautiful building and it’s ready to have people go in there and be seen,” said Teigen.
But people can't go in. Signs on the door say it's a construction area.
“I think it’s very odd, bizarre, I just couldn't believe that it wasn't open,” Teigen said.
What's more, the building was well on its way to being done way back in 2017. News 4 cameras captured it standing tall and nearing completion, though not without big problems.
Two years ago, whistleblowers told News 4 about serious concerns with the construction of the building such as huge cracks in the concrete floors, rusted out wall frames and doors, even water infiltrating insulated duct work.
Then-US Senator Claire McCaskill got involved and the VA vowed to make changes.
So what's going on now? Teigen certainly wanted to know.
“A construction worker told me that it did not pass inspections,” she said. Shocked, she contacted News 4 to get answers.
“Do you feel like it’s a waste of tax dollars at this point?” asked News 4.
“Of course it is. How much money was spent on it already and if it didn't pass code, what does that mean? How is that rectified?” Teigen said.
News 4 started digging.
Turns out, that St. Louis County doesn't inspect or permit the construction, it's all up to the federal government.
The VA provided several statements, saying construction is "progressing" and stating that while it "is largely complete, it is currently undergoing a number of routine updates required."
But that's not what the VA told US Senator Josh Hawley in a letter obtained by News 4.
It states, “While the outpatient building and new parking areas may appear complete, safety and quality issues remain to be corrected before the OCFM can move to accept the construction."
Senator Hawley is now demanding to know more about those safety and quality issues.
“Who knows, and they said there are 1,400 of them, is what they have told us,” Senator Hawley told News 4.
But the Senator says he has no clue what the 1,400 issues are.
When News 4 pressed the VA for inspection and construction reports, they said to submit a formal public information request, but after weeks, we haven't heard back.
“I’ve only been in the Senate six months, and it’s been years and years that this is dragging on, we are hearing from constituents about it. So I have said to the VA, I mean, 'Look, you've got to do better than this, I mean, we need some answers,” said Senator Hawley.
He says if needed legislation is needed to get answers, then he will pursue it.
The VA has been criticized in the past for construction oversight problems.
A sprawling medical facility in Denver opened five years behind schedule and $1 billion over budget.
The VA said patients should be able to access the Jefferson Barracks clinic building in mid-to-late 2020, four years after it was originally scheduled to be completed.
A spokesperson said, "This construction is not negatively impacting care in any way..."
But employees and vets disagree.
“It won't get done until we say it’s an issue,” said Teigen.
Cranes and construction equipment clog up the campus with work on new buildings, while the medical building still isn't done.
“I feel it’s an issue as a veteran, as a taxpayer, it’s an issue,” Teigen said.
The contractor working on the project sent the following statement:
"The Walsh Alberici Joint Venture remains committed to completing a quality project for the Department of Veterans Affairs with all parties working together to deliver a product that the veterans at Jefferson Barracks deserve."
The VA also told News 4 they addressed the issues raised in our report back in 2017.
According to the VA, the massive overall construction project is still on budget at $366 million.
As of Tuesday, the VA hasn't even provided Senator's Hawley's office with any answers to his questions about the building.
Have something to say about this construction project or the VA? Email us at investigates@KMOV.com.