Since its opening in 1914, the Panama Canal has been one of the world’s most vital transportation corridors, linking east and west and fostering trade, travel, and the expansion of global markets. In spite of the immense scale of the original project and the engineering brains and brawn that designed and cut the fifty-mile waterway through the jungles of Panama, by the early twenty-first century, the canal was at risk of becoming obsolete.
The architects and designers of the canal could not have foreseen that in 100 years’ time, the size of ships would grow to such an extent that the canal would be unnavigable for many of the world’s largest freighters.
For the canal to remain efficient and economically viable in the years to come, it needed a dramatic engineering overhaul to increase capacity and accommodate today’s larger ships. To address this need, the Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (ACP) launched the $5.25 billion Panama Canal Expansion Program.
CH2M HILL is assisting the ACP in the program management of the Panama Canal Expansion Program, which will add a third set of locks to the historic waterway. The new locks will provide an additional lane of traffic, doubling the canal’s tonnage capacity and allowing the transit of much longer, wider, Post-Panamax ships through the waterway.
CH2M HILL is assisting ACP in managing numerous contracts, including those for design and construction of the new locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the canal. CH2M HILL provides expertise directly or through subcontracts with firms from around the world on every aspect of the program.
Seldom has there been a project so interwoven with the pride and identity of a nation. It was an engineering marvel in 1914, when the first steamship entered its eastern locks. No less impressive will be the canal of 2014, designed and constructed for the people of Panama and the future of global trade.