Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) is our nation’s most hallowed ground. This Army cemetery consists of 624 acres and is the final resting place of over 400,000 service members and their families. ANC is at a crossroads in its history. In approximately twenty-five years, it will run out of space as an active cemetery to honor our nation’s veterans. In order to significantly extend ANC’s capacity, changes to either eligibility criteria and/or expansion of the cemetery’s geographic footprint are required.
In the 1998 ANC Master Plan, the former Navy Annex site was first identified as suitable interment space due to its location and existing Department of Defense (DoD) ownership. This area contains underutilized land which could be made contiguous with the cemetery by realigning roadways. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2000 (Subtitle F §2881 “Expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, Transfer from Navy Annex”) validated the suitability of the land, and required the Secretary of Defense to transfer the Navy Annex property to the Secretary of the Army and “incorporate the Navy Annex property transferred under [this section] into Arlington National Cemetery.” The NDAA of 2000, and subsequent amendments, provided for the transfer of property, and required DoD to remove all improvements from the Navy Annex property to facilitate an expansion.
The proposed Southern Expansion site, bounded by Washington Boulevard (Route 27), I-395, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Maintenance Complex, the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood, and the ANC, involves approximately 70 acres, including roadway corridors, among three current landowners: ANC, VDOT, and Arlington County.
ANC proposes to establish a single contiguous parcel of land south of the cemetery by closing, realigning, and relocating local roadways, and developing the parcel to increase interment capacity.. Absent the roadway relocation/realignment, creating a contiguous parcel would not be possible.
ANC and key stakeholders—the Federal Highway Administration Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (FHWA-EFHLD), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and Arlington County, developed a roadway realignment and relocation that creates an opportunity to increase multi-modal transportation capacity on Columbia Pike.
The Proposed Action is Alternative 1, the Preferred Alternative, as described in the Environmental Assessment (EA). The contiguous parcel would be created through the replacement of Southgate Road with new South Nash Street and realignment of Columbia Pike and the Columbia Pike/Washington Boulevard (Route 27) interchange (adjacent to the Pentagon). The existing Air Force Memorial (AFM) would be incorporated into the cemetery expansion, the existing Patton Drive will be converted to ta trail, and the existing Operations Complex would be relocated south of Columbia Pike. The Proposed Action would add approximately 49 acres of new burial space.
The Federal Highway Administration-Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (FHWA-EFLHD), in addition to its role as a cooperating agency, is designing the roadways that would be relocated as a result of the ANC expansion. The FHWA-EFLHD has indicated that all decision-making to-date concerning the EA is agreeable. Recently, at the request of Arlington County and the VDOT, the FHWA-EFLHD agreed to update traffic studies to analyze how recent changes in land use, including the move of Amazon HQ2 to Pentagon City, might impact the modified access to Route 27 (Washington Boulevard) with Columbia Pike, associated with this federal project. The FHWA-EFLHD has indicated that it intends to adopt the EA and issue its own Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), as appropriate, after the updated traffic studies are complete.
Purpose and Need
The Proposed Action is needed to meet the forecasted interment/inurnment demands of eligible veterans and to preserve ANC as an active military cemetery well into the future. The Proposed Action is needed to improve transportation and transit options along the Columbia Pike corridor thereby improving the environment, economy and quality of life.
The purpose of the Proposed Action is:
- to increase burial capacity;
- to upgrade safety and capacity levels of service for roadways within the Action Area.
- to create an opportunity to increase multimodal capacity along this portion of Columbia Pike.