Arlington National Cemetery Expansion

Arlington National Cemetery

Part 3

Chapter 6: Expansion

Photos and Material by Dan Brodt

(All photos are copyrighted unless otherwise noted. Permission must be had to use any photos that are not documented)

(Page design and editing by Bob Baldwin)

 

After four years of extensive change Arlington National Cemetery has finished the expansion project that started in 2014 and will open the space for use in upcoming weeks.

The expansion, officially known as the Millennium Project,

added 27 acres of land, 6,000 pre-dug graves and 16,000 niche wall burial spaces to the 154-year-old cemetery, which is slowly running out of room to honor and inter America’s military veterans.

The new section has room for traditional in-ground burials and also in-ground burials of veterans’ cremated remains. Concrete boxes used for burials will be double stacked, with space for two caskets. The concrete containers will be about 18 inches under the ground surface, and spaced closely together. Even with the new 27-acre expansion, the future of the cemetery is uncertain. Following the expansion, Arlington has about 100,000 spaces remaining. The cemetery is also planning another addition, one that will add 37 acres of land.

The Millennium Project, the first expansion of the cemetery space in nearly 40 years, cost around $81.7 million. The expansion space was taken out of a recreation spot for a nearby military base, a construction staging area for the cemetery and National Park Service woodland.

Construction crews move dirt and prepare the ground at the Arlington National Cemetery Millennium Expansion Project, Feb. 19, 2014.

The 27-acre project will add nearly 30,000 burial and niche spaces with a mix of above-ground columbaria

and in-ground burials. The project also involves restoring an impaired stream that runs through the area.

Crews working for the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are preparing land designated for the growth of Arlington National Cemetery.

 

“After several years of planning, studying, and designing this project, we are honored to say that the Millennium expansion project of Arlington National Cemetery is underway,” said Greg Hegge, Norfolk District project manager.

According to officials, the project is needed for the cemetery to continue to inter the nation’s veterans in this historic location. 

“Families come from all over the country to bury their loved ones at Arlington National Cemetery,” said Patrick K. Hallinan,

Executive Director Patrick K. Hallinan

executive director, Army National Military Cemeteries. “The Army remains committed to maintaining Arlington as an active military cemetery as long as possible to continue to honor and serve our nation’s military heroes.”

“Many of the in ground burial spaces will be constructed using a system of pre-placed concrete crypts, which are buried during initial construction rather than at the time of a burial,” Hegge said. “This results in a much higher level of quality and consistency, while reducing the effort necessary in the future.”

During the construction process, visitors will notice fencing surrounding the expansion project and an increased level of truck traffic near the northern end of the cemetery. Crews are working with cemetery staff to not interrupt burial services.

Hegge expects the construction process to take approximately three years with the first interments  occurring in the summer of 2019, following the necessary time to establish suitable landscaping.

The Millennium Project is an $84 million expansion project located along the northern edge of Arlington National Cemetery bordering Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. [1]

The "Southern Expansion" will be built on land where the old Navy Annex building had recently been demolished.

Navy Annex

Navy Annex Expansion

Southern Expansion

This will add about 37 acres of land and be finished by 2025. This will extend the life of the cemetery to approximately 2050 at a cost of $274 million.

Eligibility rules for burial are being revised again.  The Field of Stones will begin to become the device placed between the jaws of a vise. Ever closing, until alternatives for further placement of the fallen, can be foreseen.

  So, another chapter from Arlington's history closes. Scars will be left but they will heal and the nation's premier cemetery will be the stronger for it.

         [1] Millennium Project Work Begins at Arlington National Cemetery, Patrick Bloodgood, U.S. Army Corps  of Engineers-Norfolk District Public Affairs; Feb.21,2014.

 

Thank you for reading The History of Arlington National Cemetery

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