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Virginia’s western forensics lab begins expansion

March 4, 2014 | Virginia News

News Image The project began last week, and will add greatly to one of the busiest facilities in the state.

Construction began last week on a state facility in Roanoke County that will more than double the amount of space available to the region’s forensic scientists and medical examiners.

The $40 million project will add to and renovate the Virginia Department of Forensic Science’s Western Laboratory, as well as the Western District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, housed in the same building.

The addition and remodeling of existing space will be a welcome relief to the roughly 76 people who work at the facility off Peters Creek Road, investigating crimes and deaths in cramped labs and facilities approaching two decades old.

“We’ve pretty much topped out this place,” said Kevin Patrick, director of the forensic science lab. “It’s not ideal working conditions.”

The building on Northside High School Road is one of the busiest in the state. Forensic scientists last year worked on nearly 14,700 cases, while medical examiner’s office officials performed more than 1,300 in-house autopsies or exams.

Officials said they’ve outgrown the current space, which was built in 1995...

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