Panama Canal Expansion Hits Milestone

Final Panama Canal Gate

Published Jun 10, 2015 6:54 PM by Kathryn Stone

The Panama Canal Expansion project reached a key milestone yesterday as the sixteenth and final gate for new locks was installed on the Pacific side of the Canal.

"Today's installation is a key milestone in the Expansion Program and another important step forward for the Canal," Administrator Jorge L. Quijano stated. "Once finished, the expanded waterway will provide new possibilities for world maritime trade and further position the Canal as a reliable route to the industry."

All gates used for the canal were manufactured in Italy and delivered to Panama in four shipments beginning August 2013. The Atlantic component of the installment was completed April 1 and consisted of eight gates. This final gate is one of the largest of the project weighing in at 4,232 tons (8.5 million pounds) and measuring 57.6 meters wide by 10 meters long and 33 meters high.

With the installation of this final gate, the Panama Canal Expansion Project advances to 88% completion. The next major stepping stone for the project will be the flooding of the lock chambers.

The expanded canal is expected to be open for international commerce beginning April 1, 2016 and will accommodate ships holding up to 13,000 containers of freight – up 300% over current capacities.

Current totals put the expansion project’s cost up to this point at $5.25 billion with additional costs accrued by the project’s 2 year delay.

Roughly five percent of maritime trade passes through the canal, with the United States and China topping the list of principal users.