By Rhonda Apple, Pentagram Staff WriterDecember 6, 2011
Road construction has been underway for weeks at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Memorial Chapel, Bldg. 480, to improve access for Soldiers and other services to assemble for funeral ceremonies and allow the horse-drawn caissons to enter and exit the driveway toward Arlington National Cemetery.
"The driveway in front of Memorial Chapel was not wide enough to handle the large full-honors funerals there and the caissons had to line up in the parking lot adjacent to the chapel, but they couldn't get in front of the chapel doors without going onto McNair Road and closing traffic," said Suzanne Hren, Directorate of Public Works architect.
Vehicles had to be rerouted through the post exchange parking lot and there were problems with traffic, she said.
"The driveway is being widened by 10 feet in front of the chapel's main doors so the Soldiers and caisson can line up properly. Before, they were forced to line up on the grassy traffic island and that was a big problem," Hren said.
"The road construction project will also connect one of the new connector side roads from the chapel's parking lot to the chapel for The Old Guard's caisson use only. This will allow the caisson to go up to the front doors of the chapel. The other side road we're putting in will lead the caisson directly to the gate of ANC," she said. Bollards will be placed on these connector roads to keep out traffic, said Hren.
Hren developed a sketch of the project after speaking with organizations that participate in funeral services, including members of The Old Guard and The U.S. Army Band, as well as Lt. Ron Foster, Directorate of Emergency Services traffic, accidents and investigation manager.
"Funerals [at Memorial Chapel] required five military or civilian police officers to provide for traffic control. With the new road construction, only two people will be needed, so this will help us with manpower," Foster said. "There won't be any type of congestion at the post exchange parking lot and will provide a safe corridor for the caisson."
Additionally, two small rain gardens will be installed in the grassy island between McNair Road and the chapel driveway. The sustainable design for low-impact development, reduces the amount of storm water headed into the storm drains.
"Typically, when storm water hits a roadway, it takes any pollutant on the road and goes into a storm drain, which can eventually pollute water in streams," said Wanda Gooden, Directorate of Environmental Management storm water program manager. "The run off can be diverted to soak into the rain gardens and help redirect storm water to the storm drain."
Low impact development on JBM-HH is one of the technologies DEM is trying to promote to help restore the Chesapeake Bay, Gooden said. "This will be the first low-impact rain gardens installed on JBM-HH."
Hren said the ceremonial hard-stand area improvement project at the chapel started July 20 and the work is expected to be complete by Dec. 8.
The work is being done by Firvida Construction Corporation and the total cost of the project is $75,000," said Kenny Randle, DPW contracting officer's representative.