Lock gates in place, Panama Canal expansion passes milestone

Lock gates in place, Panama Canal expansion passes milestone

San Francisco: The Panama Canal’s multibillion-dollar expansion began an important phase towards it completion on Tuesday with the installation of the final one of 16 giant lock gates.

As the 4,232-ton rolling gate at the Pacific Ocean entrance to the waterway was put in place in Cocoli it meant the most critical part of the expansion can start in the coming weeks: the flooding of the locks.

Back in 2006 Panama committed to widening the canal to make it able to take ships capable of carrying 2.5 times as many containers as the previous norm. Now nine years on that plan is ready to bear fruit.

The construction of new locks will allow the passage of Post-Panamax vessels or container ships much too big to fit through the Canal’s old locks.

The expansion has been plagued by quarrels over cost overruns with European builders. Such delays caused its opening to be postponed by a year to April 2016.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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