The Panama Canal Expansion is the largest project at the Canal since its original construction. The project will create a new lane of traffic along the Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, doubling the waterway’s capacity.
The program consists of several components/projects:
- New Locks (Third Set of Locks), which is the construction of two lock complexes, which will create a third lane of traffic;
- Pacific Access Channel, also known as PAC4, which is the excavation of a 6.1 km-long access channel for the new Pacific locks to bypass Miraflores Lake;
- Dredging of the navigational channels along the waterway;
- Improvements to water supply by raising Gatun Lake maximum operational level by 45 cm to improve the Canal’s water supply and draft.
The existing locks allow the passage of vessels that can carry up to 5,000 TEUs. After the expansion the Post-Panamax vessels will be able to transit through the Canal, with up to 13,000 TEUs.
The main objective of the expansion program is to increase capacity to meet demand growth with enhanced customer service. The expansion will double the Canal’s capacity, having a direct impact on economies of scale and international maritime trade.
It will help maintain the Canal’s competitiveness and the value of the maritime route through Panama. The overall program has a cost of USD 5.25 billion.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: Panama Canal Authority