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Southern Expansion and Defense Access Road Project Groundbreaking



ARLINGTON, VA—A groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 14 to inaugurate construction of the Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) Southern Expansion and the Federal Highways Administration Defense Access Road (DAR) construction projects. These two projects, in conjunction with future revised eligibility criteria, will enable the Army to continue the honored tradition of laying to rest our veterans well into the future as mandated by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

Ms. Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director, Office of Army Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery, hosted the events. Participants in the ceremony included Ms. Monique Evans (FHWA-EFLHD), Maj. Gen. Joel Jackson (AFDW), and Ms. Karen Baker (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).

The combined projects will support the expansion of Arlington National Cemetery by realigning the roads near the site of the Old Navy Annex; adding roughly 50 acres to the cemetery; adding 80,000 new burial spaces; relocating the ANC Service Complex; and integrating seamless access to the Air Force Memorial.

Ms. Durham-Aguilera said, “This particular part of the project, referred to as the ‘Defense Access Road’ portion, has been spearheaded by our great partners, the Eastern Federal Lands and Highways Division of the Department of Transportation… (T)his project will shift and realign Columbia Pike and South Joyce Street, straightening and improving the road while adding numerous improvements such as new utilities, a new bike trail and sidewalks. These improvements provide a clear tangible benefit to the surrounding community, while also clearing the way for the Southern Expansion project to convert the gained space to over 80,000 new gravesites.”

The DAR project consists of the realignment of Columbia Pike and South Joyce Street, replacement of Southgate Road with a new segment of South Nash Street, expansion of Foxcroft Heights Park, and the modification of the Columbia Pike/Washington Boulevard interchange. Construction of pedestrian and bicycle paths will increase multimodal connectivity, and installation of street lighting will enhance safety. The DAR project will further construct five retaining walls, one tunnel and complete mass grading to allow completion of the Southern Expansion project.

The Arlington National Cemetery Southern Expansion project will enable the Army to continue the honored tradition of laying to rest our veterans well into the future. This will be accomplished by expanding Arlington National Cemetery and creating a culturally rich and thoughtfully designed corridor encompassing the surrounding memorials. This vision will extend the lifespan of the cemetery and enhance the visitor experience while providing substantial benefits to the surrounding areas. The expansion work consists of cemetery expansion and the construction of a new operations complex (South Parcel).

South Parcel construction will include an office building, a warehouse, green-roof maintenance bays, and a public parking garage. The cemetery expansion will primarily consist of a new entrance and screening point for visitors, columbaria courts, crypt installations.

“I’d like to thank all our partners to ensure the Southern Expansion and Defense Access Road projects meet ANC’s highest standards to ensure ANC is open for future generations of veterans,” remarked Ms. Durham-Aguilera. “However, expansion alone does not allow us to meet the Congressional mandate to keep the cemetery open well into the future. Without the proposed changes to eligibility, ANC will run out of space for new burials by the mid-2060s, even with the planned Southern Expansion project.”

The DAR portion of the project will begin in October 2021 and is projected to take three years to complete. The Southern Expansion portion of the project is being led by the United States Army Corps of Engineers-Norfolk District. It will begin in early 2023 and is expected to take four years.

For more information regarding the ANC groundbreaking, please contact Amber Vincent at 703-614-0024 or at amber.r.vincent.civ@mail.mil. For construction updates, please contact: USACE-Norfolk District, Breeana Harris at 757-510-5932 or at breeana.m.harris@usace.army.mil.

Throughout 2021, ANC is commemorating the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For more information, visit https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Tomb100.