Officials Inspect Model of New Panama Canal Locks

Thursday, October 21, 2010
Photo courtesy DJE, Inc. on behalf of the Panama Canal Authority

Steadily moving forward with expansion, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) reached another milestone. Oct. 18, the Canal’s Advisory Board and Board of Directors inspected the physical model of the new set of locks in Lyon, France. Built by Compagnie National du Rhône's (CNR) Hydraulic Laboratory, the functional model used a ship that is 12.2 meters long to perform the lock filling and emptying tests. The new locks will include side basins that reuse 60 percent of the water in every lockage of a vessel.  

“We have reached a significant phase in the Canal’s Expansion Program. We are pleased to see that Grupo Unidos por el Canal and their subcontractor, CNR, are now closer to finalizing the configuration and dimensions of the  locks’ hydraulic system so that the construction stage can begin soon,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.

Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) is the international consortium responsible for the design and construction of the new locks. They selected CNR to build the 1:30 scale physical model to perform water flow tests through its complex arrangement of culverts and valves in order to ensure that the locks will meet the minimum performance requirements set forth in the contract.

The inspection by Canal officials enabled them to visualize how the locks’ hydraulics work in terms of filling and emptying the locks’ chambers with water when raising or lowering a vessel.

To date, overall expansion work is 15 percent complete - with work underway on the dredging, dry excavation and digging for the locks.

Lyon is one of the locations where contractors are performing design work for the new Canal locks. Other cities include Chicago, and Bellevue, Washington, United States; Papendrecht, Holland; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Milan, Italy, and Panama City, Panama.

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