Contractors are placing the finishing touches and final pieces of marble on the newest structure at Arlington National Cemetery.
The 62,820-square-foot Columbarium Court 9, which is slated to be the final columbarium court in this section of the cemetery, increases the cemetery’s inurnment capacity.
“Arlington was going to run out of inurnment space in 2016,” said Kathryn A. Condon, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries. “Columbarium Court 9 will add 20,296 niche spaces and extend the availability of first inurnment to 2024.”
Each one of the niches in the new $12.9 million columbarium can hold up to three to four urns.
According to Condon, the demand for above-ground space for cremated remains is on the rise within the cemetery accounting for 68 percent of funeral services at the cemetery.
“We've analyzed the funeral trends and found that more people are being cremated," Condon said. “Also, more veterans are eligible for above-ground inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery.”
The new structure keeps the same look and feel as the existing eight columbarium courts, but according to Army Maj. Kevin Siegrist, a Norfolk District program management officer who is helping oversee the construction of the project for the district, the new columbarium includes some modern technology that wasn’t utilized with its predecessors.
The previous niches were pieced together on-site, Siegrist said. This new columbarium is using a precast system which uses a mold, improving upon the construction time and quality, and allows for cleaner corners, with better niche alignment.
Construction began in December of 2011 and will have a ribbon cutting on May 9 with the first inurnment expected later that afternoon.
Cemetery officials tout the project as a site where veterans and their families will have a special place to come and remember the sacrifices made by their fellow countrymen and women.
"It's a breath-taking setting to honor those who have served our military and their families," Condon said.