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Part of Columbia Pike to close next year as cemetery expansion project ramps up

A portion of Columbia Pike near Pentagon City is set to be closed and re-routed to side streets early next year due to work to expand Arlington National Cemetery.

The work, which will add 60,000 burial sites and space for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center, will also involve moving Columbia Pike closer to I-395, so that gravesites can be placed where it currently curves around the Air Force Memorial.

Grading work along the new planned path of the Pike has already started, as have some occasional lane closures.

“Crews have implemented various, intermittent lane closures on the project to begin work,” Amber Vincent, Public Affairs Specialist at Arlington National Cemetery, told ARLnow. “In the next six months, longterm lanes closures/shifts will be implemented to access work areas within the project.”

Lane closures are planned on Southgate Road, which runs alongside the Pike next to the current cemetery border, the spokeswoman said. That will be followed by the construction of a new road connecting the Pike and Southgate, west of the Air Force Memorial, and then the closure of the Pike itself.

“Long term lane closures are roughly 1-2 months out and will take place on Southgate Road and Joyce Street in order to begin preparations for what will ultimately be a full closure of Columbia Pike,” said Vincent. “While these closures are in place, a new roadway (South Nash Street) will be constructed between Columbia Pike and Southgate Road one block east of Oak Street.”

“We anticipate South Nash Street to be complete and open late 2022 or early 2023,” she continued. “At that time, Columbia Pike will be closed and traffic will utilize the newly constructed South Nash Street and Southgate Road to bypass the closed section of Columbia Pike to Joyce Street.”

Known as the Arlington National Cemetery Defense Access Roads (DAR) Project, the work is being funded by the federal government and managed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as is part of the 70-acre southern expansion of the cemetery.

The detours will maintain pedestrian access, we’re told, while the project will add a new sidewalk and a shared-use trail, add street lighting, and put utility lines underground.

“Access to existing facilities, as well as pedestrian and vehicle will be maintained throughout construction,” Vincent said. “Arlington National Cemetery and our partners… recognize that pedestrian infrastructure is important to those living in the D.C.-Maryland-Northern Virginia area and we have made appropriate plans to incorporate adequate pedestrian access to and around the Southern Expansion area.”

In the fall, parking was permanently prohibited on Southgate Road between S. Oak Street and Columbia Pike. After its use as a detour, that portion of Southgate Road will eventually become part of the cemetery.

Officials are still eyeing a late 2025 opening for the new burial ground, Vincent said.

Arlington National Cemetery expansion and Columbia Pike realignment, set to be completed in 2025 (image via FHWA)

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