Arlington National Cemetery expansion gets a boost from the feds

Julia LeDoux
June 16, 2020 - 9:18 am

Arlington National Cemetery

The Department of Justice filed a civil action on  Monday that would allow the federal government to use its eminent domain power to take land for a planned expansion at Arlington National Cemetery. 

“With today’s civil action,  we are proud to assist with the important expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, which may now continue to serve as a burial ground for America’s fallen well into the future,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

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The land seizure will provide the cemetery with 60,000 additional burial sites on 49 acres, DoJ said in a release. Army officials have said for several years that the cemetery would run out of burial sites without the additional land.

“The taking and relocation of these roadways, together with future planned acquisitions from the Commonwealth of Virginia, will establish a single, contiguous parcel of land south of the existing cemetery,”  the release states.

When it is finished, the Arlington National Cemetery Southern Expansion Project will transform Columbia Pike from South Oak Street to Washington Boulevard by realigning and widening the roadways. The project also includes street-scape zones with trees on both sides of Columbia Pike, will add a new dedicated bike path and widen pedestrian walkways.

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“As someone whose grandfather will forever reside at ANC with so many of his friends, brothers and sisters of the greatest generation, it is particularly meaningful to assist in facilitating this expansion and seek court approval for just compensation for Arlington County,” said U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The project also provides for the construction of a new South Ninth Street and includes an above-ground columbarium. The total project cost, including a related Defense Access Roads Project, is around $420 million.  Congress has already appropriated $280 million in project-related funding.

Monday was also the 156th anniversary of the cemetery, which was established in 1864 during the Civil War. 

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