The Panama Canal Expansion is moving forward to reach its goal of bolstering the waterway’s capacity in order to provide a better service.
To date, the program is 50% complete. “The program continues to progress and reach milestones while we focus the next phases on building the locks,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.
Beginning 2013, the Expansion Program has completed several projects.
Dredging of the navigational channels has been completed. This included both Canal entrances, on the Pacific and Atlantic sides, as well as Gaillard Cut. The remaining dredging work to be done in Gatun Lake is expected to be completed this year.
The excavations of the Pacific lock access channel are 70 percent complete. This project calls for the excavation of more than 50 million cubic meters of materials along a 6.1 km span and is executed in four phases. Three of the four phases have been completed and the fourth phase is 69 percent complete.
In addition, the first shipment of 47 valves, to be used for the operation of the third set of locks, arrived during the last couple of weeks. These valves are part of the Post-Panamax locks electromechanical system that will regulate water flow between the chambers, the culverts and water-saving basin conduit. A second shipment is scheduled to arrive at the end of January. By the end of 2013, a total of 158 valves (culvert, equalization and conduit), 84 bulkheads and 328 trash racks will have arrived for the project. The valves where built in South Korea by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries. Construction of the new locks has a 37 percent progress. The new lock complexes in the Pacific and Atlantic sides will feature three chambers, three water-saving basins per chamber, a lateral filling and emptying system and rolling gates.
“We estimate based on the progress that we can begin commercial transits mid-2015,” said the Panama Canal Administrator.
The Panama Canal Authority is closely monitoring progress on every component of the Expansion Program to guarantee that contractors comply with the quality required by each contract.
The Panama Canal Expansion Program will be the largest project at the Canal since its original construction and will double its capacity to allow more traffic.