Panama’s Centennial Bridge (Spanish: Puente Centenario) is a major bridge crossing the Panama Canal. It was built to supplement the overcrowded Bridge of the Americas and to replace it as the carrier of the Pan-American Highway. Upon its opening in 2004, it became the second permanent crossing of the canal.
The Centennial Bridge is only the second major road crossing of the Panama Canal, the first being the Bridge of the Americas. (Small service bridges are built in the lock structures at Miraflores and Gatún Locks, but these bridges are only usable when the lock gates are closed and have limited capacity.)
The Centennial Bridge is located 15 km (9.3 mi) north of the Bridge of the Americas and crosses the Culebra Cut (Gaillard Cut) close to the Pedro Miguel locks. New freeway sections, connecting Arraijan in the west to Cerro Patacon in the east via the bridge, significantly alleviate congestion on the Bridge of the Americas.
The bridge is a cable-stayed design with a total span of 1,052 m (3,451 ft). The main span is 320 m (1,050 ft) and clears the canal by 80 m (262 ft), allowing large vessels to pass below it. The bridge is supported by two towers, each 184 m (604 ft) high. The deck carries six lanes of traffic across the canal.
The Centennial Bridge is designed to withstand the earthquakes which are frequently recorded in the canal area.
The West Tower was built about 50m inland to allow space for the future widening of the Panama Canal.