DVIDS – News – Nashville District Builds Mountain Home National Cemetery Expansion

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (August 17, 2022) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing engineering services and managing construction for the Mountain Home National Cemetery expansion project, which will add 6,365 burial and cremation plots, plus eight columbarium units with 3,140 niches for veteran internments.

In partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, USACE’s Nashville District is responsible for overseeing the construction contract with the project’s contractor, Valiant Construction, which is based in Louisville, Kentucky.

Nathan Alford, engineering technician and construction representative with the Nashville District East Tennessee Residents Office in Knoxville, Tennessee, said he was proud of his role in overseeing construction, which includes placing crypts and preparing sections and grids for cremation plots which will increase the number of veterans who can be buried in the cemetery annex.

“Being a veteran myself and coming from a military family, I know I can do something to help veterans. It’s still part of the Army’s mission and it’s the Corps that can interact with the VA,” Alford said.

Alford retired as a Sergeant First Class in 2012 from the U.S. Army Reserves with 21 years of service as a combat engineer. However, he revealed that a bigger source of pride for him working on this project is that his father is actually buried in the historic side of the cemetery.

Lt. Col. Terry M. Alford served as an instructor in the U.S. Army Reserves for 28 years in the 100th Training Division before retiring in the early 2000s. His internment at Mountain Home National Cemetery took take place in June 2017.

Alford said he was very proud of his father’s service and deep down his presence at the cemetery also inspires him to personally do his best on the expansion project to honor him and all veterans. .

“Being able to work with another government agency to provide that to the public and to veterans, that’s a really great thing,” Alford said.

Construction of the expansion project began in February 2022. However, earth excavation was slowed down with 29 days of weather delays. The region saw nearly nine inches of rain in July alone, leading to a number of work stoppages.

The contractor also encountered evidence of sinkholes during construction that pre-design drilling did not uncover. The Corps of Engineers is working with the National Cemetery Association, VA officials, and the contractor to locate areas of concern and develop a drill and grout solution. The sinkhole issue is expected to add cost and schedule impacts.

“We had a very wet summer, which is not very common,” explained Alford. “And we’ve had some issues with ratings and spinoffs on the site, so we’re working to fix that so we can keep moving forward.”

Sue Nan Jehlen, superintendent of Mountain Home National Cemetery, said VA personnel value the partnership with the Corps of Engineers because of the excellent communication and technical input provided, particularly when it comes to It’s about solving expansion problems that arise such as site stabilization problems. to the karst geology of the region.

Jehlen said the VA reviews possible expansion needs about every decade and monitors depletion rates monthly. Based on these reviews, the cemetery moved forward this year with its expansion plan.

“This project has already opened up a section with over 800 cremation sites,” Jehlen said. “We are already starting to use it and we will be expanding and adding more crypt fields and columbarium walls, which we have never had at Mountain Home National Cemetery.”

Jehlen explained that columbarium units will provide veterans and their families with an additional option for placing cremation urns in these units.

The current cemetery has approximately 17,000 plots and encompasses 41 landscaped acres out of 99.7 acres available for interments. This expansion project adds an additional eight acres with 3,187 pre-placed crypts and 3,178 buried cremains, plus eight columbarium units that will provide 3,140 niches for urns.

Pre-placed crypt graves come with a three foot by eight foot by seven foot concrete box that holds two coffins. Each columbarium unit is approximately 45 feet long by 6 feet wide and 6.6 feet high. A concrete columbarium unit used in the footer and rod wall weighs approximately 400,000 pounds. When considering structural steel in the footer or precast concrete niche units, masonry blocks, bricks or cut natural stone veneers that rest on top of the footers, the total weight of each unit is well over 700,000 pounds.

The cemetery expects to fill all available plots in the developed part of the cemetery by around 2024, so space is running out and the expansion project is needed, she said.

This expansion project is supported by the Corps of Engineers Interagency and International Services (IIS) program, which provides technical assistance to federal agencies outside the Department of Defense, state and local governments, tribal nations , US private companies, international organizations and foreign governments.

Greg Bishop, Senior IIS Project Manager and Acting IIS Program Manager at Nashville District Headquarters, said this is the second project between the NCA and the Nashville District.

“We have completed the design and construction of the new visitor center in the historic section,” Bishop said. “I think it was a great success both from the design that blended in with the surrounding buildings on the VA campus and from the construction that the Corps of Engineers completed as planned.”

Bishop said the design of the current expansion project achieved the desired results in maximizing space, and aside from the sinkhole issue, construction proceeded mostly as planned.

“I anticipate a strong relationship with the NCA where our expertise helps complement their needs for future projects,” Bishop said.

Nashville District support helps the VA meet program challenges while avoiding duplication of federal capabilities and agency start-up and close-out activities. The Corps of Engineers operates largely as a contract manager using private sector talent to perform real world tasks.

The NCA is funding the $8,778,857 construction contract for the expansion. Reimbursable support from the Corps of Engineers is arranged through the execution of a written project partnership agreement.

For more information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, visit the District’s website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/, on Facebook at http: //www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.

Date taken: 17.08.2022
Date posted: 17.08.2022 10:36
Story ID: 427418

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