$12M Job Expands Arlington National Cemetery by 40 Acres

Mon August 29, 2005 - National Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

Our nation’s military burial ground is in the midst of a needed expansion project.

A total of 26,000 graves are being added to the current 215,000 graves at the 200-acre Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

The expansion is necessary to accommodate the large number of veterans from World War II. According to John Metzler, cemetery superintendent, this group is currently the largest population of daily burials. A total of 6,400 funerals are held each year at the cemetery, and the peak year is expected to be 2008, when officials estimate that 30 funerals will be conducted each day. Currently, two or three Iraq veterans are buried there each week. At this rate, the cemetery will run out of space by 2025, according to Katherine Welton, the cemetery’s program manager at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Baltimore district.

The $12-million project will cover 40 acres, and will allow room for burials through 2030. In addition, two more expansions are planned, creating additional space for ground burials for approximately 60 more years. This project marks the cemetery’s first expansion since 1995, when a 10-acre addition was completed.

The Baltimore District of the Corps of Engineers awarded the contract to Lane Construction Corporation, which is based in Meridan, CT. The project manager is John F. Roddy.

Construction began in May 2005. Phase 1 will take approximately 18 months to complete, and Phase 2 could take another three years.

“The project is currently one month ahead of schedule,” said Lori Calvillo, public affairs officer for Arlington National Cemetery. “But this kind of job can slow down in the winter months if we have a lot of snow.”

Phase I involves basic site development and infrastructure, including grading of the land, installation of utilities, construction of roads and storm water drain work. Phase II involves niche walls, which are similar to the niches found in the columbaria. A wall of niches will border the new parcel of land and separate Route 110 (Jefferson Davis Parkway) from the cemetery.

Approximately 60,000 cu. yds. of dirt has been moved so far, out of a total of 240,000 cu. yds.

Calvillo noted that one unique aspect of this particular project is the large amount of utilities that are required for a project in a cemetery. Approximately 2,200 linear ft. of storm drain pipe has been installed out of a total of 5,400 linear ft. The sanitary sewer line installation is already finished — a total of 850 linear ft., — and 5,500 linear ft. of waterline also will be installed.

“This is one of the biggest construction efforts we’ve done here at the cemetery, and we’ve had to be very inventive in how we deal with the drainage,” said Welton.

Since the new land sits next to a major roadway and a mass transit system, developing a drainage system required a bit of engineering expertise. The problem was resolved with a new system called microtunneling.

“We’re using a microtunnel system rather than a standard jack and bore system for stormwater outfall,” Welton said. “It allows us to go under Route 110 and the Metro, resulting in minimal, if any, settling.”

Respect For the Dead

One of the challenges to the project involves noise control.

“The nature of the site requires limited noise,” Calvillo explained, “something that is sometimes difficult to achieve during heavy construction projects with a short delivery period.”

In addition, the sanctity of the job site is a major concern for the contractors.

“We erected a wood stockade fence to limit the intersection of the site with the rest of the cemetery,” explained Roddy. “We regularly water down the site to minimize dust, and have notified our employees that strictly professional behavior is required at all times. We relish the opportunity to provide a high-quality product in this setting for the people who have served our country.”

Major subcontractors for the project include Tavares Contracting, Lorton, VA, storm drain; Bray Wilson, Clifton, VA, clearing; VA Paving, Alexandria, VA, asphalt paving; CTI Consultants Inc., Chantilly, VA, geotechnical boring and testing; A&M Concrete, Falls Church, VA, concrete curb and gutter; and Hercules Fence, Manassas Park, VA, fence.

The job equipment list includes Hitachi 270 and 450 backhoes, John Deere 650 and 850 bulldozers, a Komatsu D-65 bulldozer, a Volvo A250 off-road truck, a John Deere 300D off-road truck, a Cat 966 loader, a Cat 466 loader/backhoe, and a Dynapac CA25D roller.

Another expansion is set to begin in 2008, adding another 26 acres to the site. This project will involve an in-ground interment area and columbaria-like niches in the surrounding wall.

Arlington Cemetery received military designation in 1864, during the Civil War. Besides Presidents Kennedy and Taft, it is the final resting place of approximately 170 men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. CEG