Arlington National Cemetery set to expand

Julia LeDoux
March 18, 2019 - 11:38 am
Bugler at Arlington National Cemetery

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There’s new hope for service members and their families who want Arlington National Cemetery to be their final resting place.

According to the Department of Defense, a long-planned-for expansion of the southern portion of the cemetery is expected to get underway next year, which should help alleviate burial space concerns there, at least for the near-term.

“The expansion will add 37 acres of burial space and extend the cemetery’s active life,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries, told a Congressional subcommittee last week.

RELATED: Arlington National Cemetery Could Close In Decades   

The two-phase project has received $219.1 million of the $350 million it needs to move forward, Durham-Aguilera said. Plans call for the rerouting of Columba Pike and adjacent roads near the Air Force Memorial and former Navy Annex. That work would be completed under the Defense Access Road Program. The additional land would then be converted into additional burial space.

RELATED: Arlington National Cemetery Is Filling Up

The road portion of the project should be complete by 2022, Durham-Aguilera said. The second phase of the project should begin in 2022 and finish in 2025.

“Expansion alone will not keep ANC open well into the future — defined as 150 years,” she said. Explaining that no matter what ANC does they will eventually not be able to keep up with burials. 

Arlington Expansion Map
Army Illustration

Several initiatives, including one that would tighten burial eligibility requirements at the cemetery, have been floated as ways to preserve burial space at Arlington.  Two public surveys of nearly 260,000 respondents in addition to meetings and listening sessions with key stakeholders — including more than 25 veteran and military service organizations – have been held on the initiatives.

“Arlington National Cemetery’s enduring mission is to represent the American people for the past, present and future generations by laying to rest those few who have served our nation with dignity and honor while immersing guests in the cemetery’s living history,” Durham-Aguilera said.

In fiscal year 2018, ANC buried nearly 6,500 service members, veterans and eligible family members, Durham-Aguilera said.  In all, more than 400,000 service members and their eligible family members rest within the cemetery’s 625 acres.  

RELATED: Arlington National Cemetery Running Out of Space, Annexing More

To move forward on the project, Durham-Aguilera said the Army is working with Arlington County, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Federal Highway Administration.

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