The east end of Columbia Pike in Arlington already looks quite different after the 70-year-old Navy Annex was torn down last year, but it may change even more under a proposed 3-way land swap between Arlington County, the Department of Defense, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The swap envisions realigning Columbia Pike, removing the old Southgate Road, building a new Southgate Road, and completely reworking the Columbia Pike-Washington Boulevard interchange.
Arlington National Cemetery is running out of land for additional burials. That is largely driving this deal, which will give the cemetery more contiguous land, but it also means beneficial changes for the transportation network.
While the exact parcels have not been fully identified, the swap will likely mostly resemble the map above. The cemetery will get the green area, consisting of old Navy Annex land, the former Southgate Road and former Columbia Pike, South Joyce Street, and portions of the Columbia Pike-Washington Boulevard cloverleaf interchange.
The yellow area will go to Arlington for a proposed Freedmen’s Village museum and other public uses. The blue area is DoD property that used to house a gas station and the purple is part of the current cloverleaf.
Columbia Pike gets straightened out and rebuilt. The new portion of Columbia Pike would include 4 general-purpose lanes and a sidewalk on the south side. A 10-foot sidepath on the north side would connect with a similar sidepath planned for this section of Columbia Pike.
The cloverleaf with Route 27 would become a more compact diamond interchange. A new Southgate Road would connect Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall to Columbia Pike by a shorter route than the road today.
An earlier land swap proposal was authorized in 2008 which would not have realigned the Pike. It would have simply swapped the county’s Southgate Road right-of-way for a similarly-sized piece of the Navy Annex, but it was tabled in 2012.
Arlington and the federal government signed a new memorandum of understanding in 2013, and authority to make the swap recently appeared in the proposed Department of Defense appropriations bill.