The Panama Canal Authority said Monday that the expansion of the waterway, begun five years ago, is now about half completed, and the official date for the completion of the expansion project remains October 2014 and the expanded waterway will be operational in 2015.
In a year-end press release, the authority noted that “As of November 30, 2012, the Expansion Program registered an overall progress of 48.9 percent, with several components almost completed – mainly the dredging works at the Panama Canal entrances on the Pacific and Atlantic sides.”
In a table included in the release the authority gave this update on individual components of the project as of Nov. 30:
- Excavation of the Pacific locks access channel, 76.5 percent.
- Dredging of the Atlantic side of the canal entrance, 99 percent.
- Dredging of the Pacific side of the canal entrance, 97 percent.
- Dredging of Gatun Lake and Gaillard Cut, 82 percent.
- Design and construction of the new locks, 36 percent.
- Raising Gatun Lake’s maximum operating level, 10 percent.
The authority noted the canal celebrates the 13th year under the Panamanian administration today. The authority assumed full control of the canal at noon on Dec. 31, 1999.
“The Panama Canal reaffirms its relevance in international commerce more than ever as a result of the decisions and actions that Panamanians have taken with regard to its management,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano.
In addition to the expansion, the authority said other projects over the past 13 years include straightening and widening of Gaillard Cut; purchase of floating equipment, including tugboats, a cutter-suction dredge and a backhoe/dipper dredge; replacement of the original lock system from electromechanical to hydraulic; replacement of locomotives and the rehabilitation of tracks in the locks; and reforestation programs with more than 2 million planted saplings in the canal watershed. - Chris Dupin