Construction started Monday on the long-delayed Temecula hospital.
City Council members sank the first shovels into the ground, kicking off a massive construction effort that will see the five-story, 140-bed medical center erected by summer 2013.
Plans for the hospital have been delayed multiple times since their unveiling in 2004.
While city officials signed off on the complex in 2006, a lawsuit raised by local citizens groups and a nurses union over environmental issues stalled the construction effort.
Universal Health Services, the company building the hospital, was cited earlier this year for multiple code violations in its Murrieta and Wildomar facilities.
A fully built emergency and women's health center at its Rancho Springs location sat empty for almost two years because of safety concerns raised by the California Department of Public Health. The center was opened in February.
Construction on the new Temecula complex is starting amidst concerns over a severe shortage of health services and beds in Southwest Riverside County.
While the newly opened Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta complex has lessened the strain, Temecula residents still have few options for local emergency care.
Currently, the closest full-service hospital for city residents is Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta. That could be more than a 20 minute drive for some residents who live on Temecula Parkway, where the new hospital is going up.
Updated plans for the new hospital, which call for foundations to be poured by February 2012, were approved last February.
The new plans are significantly scaled back from the ambituous 2006 set, which called for a huge six-story first phase followed by a second, smaller build.
To read more about the new plans, .
“The new Temecula Valley Hospital is an important milestone in our goal to provide the finest quality healthcare to south Riverside County, so to reach this point is exciting for everyone involved,” stated UHS president Marc Miller in a May emailed announcement.
Peter Surowski contributed to this report.