Panama Canal Expansion Program Update – April 2013
The Panama Canal expansion project (also called the Third Set of Locks Project) will double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2015 by creating a new lane of traffic and allowing more and larger ships to transit.
The project will:
- Build two new locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides. Each will have three chambers with water-saving basins.
- Excavate new channels to the new locks.
- Widen and deepen existing channels.
- Raise Gatun Lake’s maximum operating level.
In 2006, then-Panamanian President Martín Torrijos formally proposed the project on April 24, saying it would transform Panama into a First World country. A national referendum approved the proposal by 76.8 percent of the vote on October 22, and the Cabinet and National Assembly followed suit. The project formally began on September 3, 2007.
The project is expected to create demand for ports to handle post-Panamax ships. As of November 2012, the U.S. Eastern Seaboard ports of Baltimore, Maryland; Norfolk, Virginia; and Miami, Florida, will be ready for these larger ships, although other ports are considering renovations, including dredging, blasting, and bridge-raising.In the UK, the Port of Southampton can handle post-Panamax vessels and is expanding to accommodate more, while the port of Liverpool and other are considering such expansion.