Panama Canal Expansion Project
The expansion of the Panama Canal (Third Set of Locks Project) is a project that will double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2015 by allowing more and larger ships to transit. Then-Panamanian President Martín Torrijos presented the plan on April 24, 2006, and Panamanian citizens approved it in a national referendum by 76.8 percent of the vote on October 22, 2006.
The project creates a new lane of traffic along the canal by constructing a new set of locks. The project includes the following integrated components:
- Construction of two lock complexes—one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides—each with three chambers, which include three water-saving basins;
- Excavation of new access channels to the new locks and the widening of existing navigational channels; and
- Deepening of the navigation channels and the elevation of Gatun Lake's maximum operating level.
On September 3, 2007, after approval by the Cabinet, National Assembly, and referendum, the Panama Canal expansion project officially started. Panama's then-president Martín Torrijos stated that the canal would generate enough wealth to transform Panama into a First World country. The project is also expected to reduce poverty by about 30 percent, resulting in an 18 percent poverty rate in Panama afterwards.
Outside Panama, the expansion will create demand along the US Eastern Seaboard for ports to handle post-Panamax ships; as of November 2012, although ports are considering renovations including dredging, blasting, and bridge-raising, only Baltimore, Maryland, Norfolk, Virginia, and Miami, Florida will be ready for these larger ships. The UK port of Liverpool is also undergoing massive expansion to take post-panamax vessels.
Read more about Panama Canal Expansion Project: Background, Construction Timeline, Finances, Environmental Impact, Employment Generation, Voices Supporting The Project, Voices Against The Project, See Also
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