Friday, August 9, 2013

Panama Canal Expansion Reaches New Milestone

The Panama Canal Expansion project is now more than 60 percent complete, according to the latest progress report from the government agency in charge of managing and overseeing the project.

As of late July, the expansion was 60.4 percent finished, a 15 percent increase from a year ago, reports the Panama Canal Authority.

The project, which involves the construction of a third lane of traffic, is expected to double the canal’s capacity by 2015, was reportedly almost 45 percent complete as of August 31, 2012, but is believed to be about six months behind it’s originally projected schedule.

The project, which was officially kicked off in September 2007, consists of, among other things, the excavations of new access channels, the widening of existing channels and the deepening of navigation channels.

The expansion is expected to allow post-Panamax ships to travel through the canal en route to East Coast terminals, something that could negatively affect West Coast vessel traffic.

The Panama Canal Authority also says that both canal entrances are now ready for bigger ships because the deepening and widening of the Atlantic and Pacific access channels have been completed.

Also, the Authority says, in June the Panama Canal received three of the 14 new tugboats that are expected to enhance the Canal’s current fleet. The additional tugs are to be used to assist post-Panamax vessels expected to transit the expanded Canal.

A final commissioning of the expansion is planned to begin in September 2014, with commercial transits expected to begin by mid-2015.