This map shows Arlington National Cemetery’s plan to expand its burial grounds around the Air Force Memorial and realign the eastern end of Columbia Pike. It’s the second big expansion of the cemetery in the last three years; this one would involve a land swap with the county the Virginia Department of Transportation and create graves on either side of the Air Force Memorial. (Arlington National Cemetery)

Arlington National Cemetery, which inters 7,000 military veterans, spouses and dignitaries each year, unveiled preliminary plans this week to create room for more than 25,000 new graves by rerouting part of Columbia Pike and swapping land with local and state governments.

The southward expansion of the cemetery into 38 acres around the Air Force Memorial would not only create new plots contiguous with the existing grounds but also could help improve local transit and traffic flow along the often-congested route to the Pentagon and the Pentagon Row shopping area.

Residents who live nearby who examined the preliminary plans Wednesday generally expressed support for the project, which is expected to take about six years.

Donna DiFelice of the Arlington View neighborhood said her father, a World War II veteran who lives with her, may be the beneficiary of one of the new graves the cemetery.

“As much land as we can give for this purpose is good,” she said. “We can’t do enough for our veterans,” a sentiment echoed separately by several others.

Much of the land was the site of the now-demolished Navy Annex, a million-square-foot complex built as a temporary warehouse during World War II. The Air Force Memorial would remain the centerpiece of the property.

The Army began land-swap negotiations with Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation three years ago because the county and state own most of the roads that would be affected by the project. Southgate Road, which now divides the property from the existing cemetery, would be closed, and a new street may be built between the vacant land and the several dozen homes of Foxcroft Heights on the land’s western border.

The negotiations are “complicated, because it’s not just a two-party agreement,” said Greg Emanuel, the county’s director of environmental services. “I feel as though we’re moving forward. All parties want to do the right thing. This is going to be how the corridor is aligned for a long time. These are critical transportation connections. This is the link — there’s no alternatives or redos. We’ve got to get this right. . . . My opinion is all parties are moving in the right direction, and I think we’ll get this done.”

The goal is to finalize those negotiations within a year, Emanuel and others said, so when the Army’s environmental assessment is completed and final plans are drawn up, roadway construction could start in 2018, and cemetery construction could start in 2019. Final completion is tentatively set for 2022.

The cost of the cemetery portion of the project is estimated at $274 million, Army Col. Doug Guttormsen said. However, Guttormsen, the director of engineering at the cemetery said, that money has not been appropriated by Congress. That does not including $30 million for road realignments, which will be shared by state and federal governments.

Arlington National Cemetery, with 400,000 existing graves and about 30 new burials each weekday, has been running low on space for years. In 2013, it began a 27-acre expansion in its northwest corner that will provide about 27,000 new grave sites, which is expected to handle demand through the mid-2030s. The southern expansion is expected to provide enough room for another 20 years or so of burials.

The Army is soliciting comments on the proposal and its upcoming environmental assessment.

Tom and Marguerite Greig of the Penrose neighborhood, just across Washington Boulevard, said they have been frustrated by the pace of land-swap negotiations, which has dragged on for years. One holdup, they noted, was when the county wanted to use land it would get south of the realigned Columbia Pike to store and maintain its bus fleet. That idea has since been rejected, but the county now wants to use those seven acres for “county or public use,” which could include a bus stop, a park or a museum.

“The county could have been more accommodating, because it’s a national monument to people all over the country,” Marguerite Greig said. “The cemetery deserves deference. There are plenty of places for a bus stop.”

John Moran, president of the Foxcroft Heights Civic Association, said he has been urging the cemetery and county for the past nine years to pay more attention to the traffic volume and traffic flow through his neighborhood to the adjacent Fort Myer-Henderson Hall. This project, he hopes, will finally correct those problems.

Buses “shake pictures off my walls,” Moran said, and GPS devices send drivers through neighborhood streets to get to one of the military base’s gates. Removing the mid-rise Navy Annex gave the modest homes of Foxcroft Heights “multimillion-dollar views of downtown Washington,” he noted, and the addition of the white military gravestones on that land will be welcome.

“My grandfather was gassed in World War I, and my father served in World War II,” Moran said. “I have no objection at all to burials here.”