One of the most sacred spaces in the United States is growing.
The bodies of about 400,000 American troops and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces are buried at Arlington National Cemetery and more are added each year. Arlington might have run out of space for new graves by 2043, but the National Planning Commission has approved expanding the cemetery by 70 acres.
The expansion will make room for 60,000 new burial spaces, NPR reports, connecting with the U.S. Air Force Memorial on Columbia Pike. It will also allow for more walkways through the cemetery and more room for parking.
But don’t expect the expansion to be completed overnight.
The federal government doesn’t even control the land yet, though according to the Washington Post it filed a civil suit against Arlington County in June 2020 to gain that control by eminent domain. Following the handoff, a section of the Columbia Pike will need to be reengineered to make the expansion possible.
“As part of the expansion project, The Department of the Army and others worked to realign roads and real estate to ensure a much needed expansion of Arlington National Cemetery so that this space can continue being a hallowed resting ground for our nation’s service members,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.
So far, Arlington County is complying with the federal plan. According to WTOP, the county is further offering the federal government $500,000 for the design and installation of a multi-use trail next to the cemetery.
This could go a long way to assuaging the concerns of those who aren’t so happy about the expansion. As ARLnow reports, Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County in 2018 claimed the expansion “will squander a major opportunity to improve the bike connection between Columbia Pike and Pentagon City and arguably make cycling less pleasant and less safe.”
The expansion is expected to be completed by 2025.
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.