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Expanding the Panama Canal
Photos courtesy of the Panama Canal Authority expansion programme
Expanding the Panama Canal
Photos courtesy of the Panama Canal Authority expansion programme
Expanding the Panama Canal.
Panama Boat

Expanding the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal serves as a vital link for shipping and global commerce. CH2M HILL is working to expand the historic canal through the construction of an additional set of locks, which will handle the ever growing size of ships and increased volume of traffic necessary to keep global commerce flowing through the canal. What an honour to be entrusted with this great responsibility and historic undertaking!

Project Overview

History buffs may recall that the French first tried to build a "sea level" canal around the turn of 20th century and were defeated by engineering challenges, large river in–flow and tides on the Pacific side. The United States finished the first canal (two lanes) and locks in 1914 using a new design.

In 1939, the U.S. built a second set of locks which allowed the transit of commercial and war ships whose dimensions exceeded the size of the existing locks. A third set of locks was in the works when, in 1942, the work stopped because of the outbreak of WWII. Now, more than 70 years later, CH2M HILL serves as the programme manager to build an expanded canal and a series of new locks on the Pacific and the Caribbean sides. We will widen the cuts, deepen the ship lanes and raise the water level, all with the mega-ships of today in mind. The canal will see an increase in cargo volumes, the transit of larger vessels, and an advantage of the economies of scale.

This new, much larger canal will be built aside the existing canal and locks.

Planning

Clearly, this is a landmark project for our firm. But more important, it will provide added economic benefits to Panama, helping it to achieve long-term economic sustainability and growth, by expanding this important route for global commerce. Beyond serving as overall programme manager, our mission is to help protect the country's environment and cultural and historical resources. The expansion will ensure a robust future for Panama's maritime route, boost the national economy, and enhance safety and efficiency.

Making History

The expansion will be the largest project in the canal’s history since it opened in 1914. During the next 20 years, cargo moving through the canal will grow an average of 3 percent per year, doubling 2005’s tonnage by 2025.

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