Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Abilene Breaks Ground

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PBS&J helps Texas honor veterans through state cemetery program.

A groundbreaking ceremony will take place tomorrow for the Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Abilene, paving the way for local families of Texas veterans to have a place to honor loved ones who have served their country.

PBS&J designed and planned the 63-acre cemetery with the Texas Veterans Land Board as part of the Texas State Veterans Cemetery Program, an initiative to build seven veterans cemeteries across the state with the goal of having one within a two-hour drive of nearly every Texas city.

"Our goal in designing the state veterans cemeteries is to create a local space that carries the sense of deference present at places like Arlington National Cemetery," said Scott Smiley, project manager for PBS&J. "We have a high regard for our veterans in Texas, and PBS&J is proud to help create places of honor, quiet dignity and natural beauty in communities across the state."

During preliminary planning for the Abilene cemetery, PBS&J and the Texas Veterans Land Board conducted meetings with local veterans' group leaders and city and county officials to gather input to ensure that building façades and plantings in the cemetery reflected the history of the area.

The cemetery is being built near Lake Fort Phantom Hill and has an ultimate capacity of over 20,000 burials. It will feature a covered, open-air structure for committal services, a visitor's center, a computer system for locating specific graves or interments, an assembly area for special occasions, and a memorial walkway for future monuments.

"PBS&J's respect for Texas veterans and commitment to this project showed throughout the planning and design process," said Paul Moore, the Deputy Commissioner of the Texas Veterans Land Board. "They've been an outstanding partner in creating a place to honor the service and dedication of local veterans and their families."

The first interments are expected to take place in spring 2009. The new cemetery will join state veterans cemeteries in Killeen and Mission that were also designed and planned by PBS&J. The cemeteries complement the state's four national veterans cemeteries in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and El Paso.

The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen currently includes an information center, administration building, committal shelter, assembly area for ceremonies, columbarium for approximately 1,100 cremated remains, and approximately 6,500 in-ground burial places. The 174-acre site is capable of providing approximately 50,000 burial places for veterans, their spouses and eligible dependent children.

The Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission currently includes approximately 6,200 interment sites. The 75-acre cemetery site will ultimately provide approximately 25,000 burial locations.

The Texas State Veterans Cemetery Committee has selected Corpus Christi as the fourth cemetery site to be developed through the program.

About PBS&J (http://www.pbsj.com)
PBS&J is an employee-owned firm that provides infrastructure planning, engineering, environmental, construction management, architecture, and program management services to public and private clients. The firm is ranked by Engineering News-Record as 25th among the nation's top consulting firms. PBS&J has almost 3,900 employees located in more than 75 offices throughout the U.S. and abroad, including ten offices in Texas.

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