The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has opened an interim medical clinic in Lake Charles, a step on the road to establishing improved and expanded permanent clinics for veterans there and in Lafayette.

The interim clinic is at 814 W. McNeese St. The VA operates a mobile clinic in Lake Charles and a small clinic in Lafayette. The agency promised replacements more than six years ago, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, has said. His district also includes Lake Charles.

The path to opening the new clinics was smoothed last year when President Barack Obama signed a VA reform bill that included approval for those outpatient clinics and 24 others around the country. But progress on the two southwest Louisiana clinics has been plagued by contract snafus.

Permanent clinics in both cities could open by late 2016.