A crowd, totaling an estimated 30,000,
included world leaders in business and government joined employees of the Panamanian government and the
Panama Canal Authority (ACP) in a ceremony and groundbreaking to celebrate the beginning of the first-ever expansion of the nearly 100-year-old waterway.
Expansion will build a new lane of traffic along the Panama Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, which will
double capacity and allow more traffic and longer, wider ships. Today’s event inaugurates the first construction project
of expansion: a dry excavation project on Paraiso Hill that begins the construction of the new Pacific Locks access channel.
The new Pacific Locks access channel will ultimately connect the Gaillard Cut to the new Pacific Locks.
In a national referendum October 22, 2006, Panamanians voted to expand the Canal, a momentous step that will ultimately secure their future and that of world trade
. Expansion will double Canal capacity to more than 600 million Panama Canal tons, tighten the global supply chain and help get goods to market faster. After scores of analyses, studies and planning, expansion begins today.
“We have researched and planned this project for years; we have the approval of the Panamanian people. As we stand
here today, our vision and perseverance have paid off. Now, it is time to execute. Now it is time to begin the expansion of
the Panama Canal,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.