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Panama Canal completes major step in expansion program

The Pacific Access Channel will connect the third set of locks with the Culebra Cut and Gatun Lake
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
October 17, 2011

In another important milestone of its Expansion Program, the Panama Canal Authority announced the completion of phase three of the dry excavation project in the construction of the Pacific Access Channel (PAC). 

The Pacific Access Channel will connect the third set of locks with the Culebra Cut and Gatun Lake.

Tom Brossart, director of global logistics and trade compliance for W.R. Grace & Co. told LM that his company is tracking the expansion with great interest.

“Our 3PLs are hedging their bets by looking at all-water service rather than just having U.S. West Coast calls in the future,” he said. “We know the Port of Houston is going to among the many gateways taking advantage of this.”

The third phase of the PAC – costing $36.6 million including design, contractors and management – consisted of excavating 8.2 million cubic meters of materials, cleaning 190 hectares of munitions and explosives of consideration (MECs) and leveling Paraíso Hill from 46 meters to 27.5 meters above sea level.

This dry excavation project was completed within budget, on time and in compliance with strict environmental, safety, hygiene and quality standards.

“As we reach another milestone, we at the Panama Canal are proud to acknowledge that this new third lane will be a game changer in world maritime commerce,” said Panama Canal Authority Administrator/ CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta. Zubieta recently visited ports in the East and Gulf Coasts to showcase the Canal´s progress on expansion and future plans.

To date, three of the four dry excavation projects, which will result in a 6.1-kilometer channel, have been completed for Postpanamax vessels to transit once the Canal Expansion is completed.

The Canal’s expansion is on schedule, following the recent commencement of the permanent concrete work for the new locks. The $5.25 billion project includes the construction of a new set of locks that will double Canal capacity and allow the transit of longer and wider ships.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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