Monday, December 22, 2014

Panama Canal Expansion Now 83 Percent Finished

By Mark Edward Nero

One of the most important phases of the Panama Canal expansion project, the electro-mechanical installation stage, has begun with the installation of the first steel rolling gate at the Atlantic Ocean side, the Panama Canal Authority revealed Dec 19.

Unlike the current Canal, which uses miter gates, the expanded Canal will have steel rolling gates, with the rolling system facilitating gate maintenance.

The arrival of the last four of the 16 rolling gates for the new locks in November and the transfer of the eight gates for the Pacific-side locks through the waterway means all electro-mechanical components are ready to be installed by mid-2015, according to the Canal Authority, which is in charge of operating, managing and maintaining the Panama Canal.

Construction of the new locks is a major component of the Canal’s expansion. Already, much of the 4.4 million cubic meters of concrete needed has been poured, giving form to the structure and making the locks visible.

The massive steel rolling gates weigh on average 3,400 tons and vary in sizes depending on their location (Pacific Ocean or Atlantic) and their position on the locks chambers. The tallest of the gates is 108 feet high, the equivalent of an 11-story building.

To date, the overall program is 83 percent complete, according to the Canal Authority, with several major components already finished, such as the dredging of the canal entrances on the Pacific and Atlantic sides.