- Army will use former Navy Annex site to expand Arlington National Cemetery
- County will work with Army to support cemetery expansion
- Columbia Pike realignment to move forward
- County to work for fair compensation, Freedman’s Village commemoration
The U.S. Army has informed Arlington County that it will no longer pursue a land exchange with the County. The Army has said it will use the entire former Navy Annex site, along Columbia Pike, to expand Arlington National Cemetery.
“While we are disappointed that Arlington County will not receive any land in this area for County needs through a land exchange agreement, we are committed to working with the cemetery to support one of our nation’s most cherished and hallowed sites,” Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said.
Cemetery to acquire five acres of Arlington land
The Army’s decision means it intends to retain all federal land at the former Navy Annex. It also will acquire for the cemetery about five acres of public land now owned by Arlington County and more than seven acres of public land now owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia that support the existing transportation network. The Army originally had proposed, and Arlington had worked for years to achieve, a land exchange agreement. The agreement would have provided Arlington with land south of a realigned Columbia Pike that the County had hoped to use to meet a variety of public facility needs.
Columbia Pike, Southgate Road to be realigned
“There will be no land exchange, but Columbia Pike and Southgate Road will be realigned and the Columbia Pike/Washington Boulevard interchange will be modified,” Schwartz said. “The realignment of Columbia Pike and the multimodal improvements that will be made in this corridor not only will improve the transportation network, but also will allow us to upgrade the streetscape that will serve as a fitting boundary for Arlington National Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial, the Pentagon Memorial Visitor’s Center, and other uses in this segment of the Columbia Pike corridor.”
The realigned Southgate Road will carry traffic coming to and from Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall. The Realigned Columbia Pike will be rebuilt in a manner consistent with the County’s Columbia Pike Multimodal Project, as a four-lane roadway with a sidewalk and a shared-use path, improved landscaping, enhanced lighting and undergrounding of utilities.
Increasing burial space, extending Cemetery closure date
Arlington National Cemetery is projected to run out of burial space in the early 2040s. The roadway realignment and the land that will be acquired from Arlington County and the Commonwealth will provide 38 more acres of contiguous burial space to accommodate approximately 50,000 more burial spaces, extending the closure date of the Cemetery until the mid-2050s, based on the current demand and interment rates.
County to seek compensation, commemoration of Freedman’s Village
The County now will negotiate with the Army to ensure that Arlington and its taxpayers receive fair compensation for the County-owned land as the Army pursues its acquisition, Schwartz said. The County also will work with the Army to commemorate historic Freedman’s Village in a meaningful way at a site as close to the original site of the village, as possible. The original village was located just north of the Navy Annex site.
Freedman’s Village, a camp of former slaves, was established by the federal government in 1863 on the grounds of the Custis and Lee estates, which later became Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon and the Navy Annex Building.