The project to widen Panama Canal was begun with an explosion on September 3, 2007, and is expected to cost 5.25 billion dollars, although it could very well go much above this. The project is expected to be completed in 2014, the 100th anniversary of the canal. The project is under the authority of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), which is an autonomous government agency that currently runs the canal. The project will require excavating about 135 cubic meters of earth. the supplies required include 1 million tonnes of cement, 5,200 tonnes of explosives, 85 million gallons of diesel, and 250,000 tonnes of steel using 10 dredgers and hundreds of excavating machines (Nelson A Great Day), making this the largest project Panama has probably undertaken since it gained independence from Colombia.
The Panama Canal expansion project is supposed to double the canals capacity and increase traffic by creating a third set of locks, including lock complexes on the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the canal, a new third lane of traffic, excavation of new access channels to the new locks, and widening and deepening of the existing canal. In addition, Gatun Lake will be raised by 1.5 feet in order to store more water for canal operations and the drinking supply.
New locks will be built on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the canal. The construction group Constructora Urbana has the first contract to remove earth to create a widened access channel to the new Pacific sidelocks. Other contracts are still to be decided, and it will be up to the ACP to efficiently manage them all and keep them working towards the completion date.
A lot of the work that is being planned is similar to the expansion project begun by the U.S. in 1939 in order to allow passage for larger U.S. military vessels, an expansion project that the U.S. abandoned at the start of World War II and never returned to.nbsp.