Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Expanding the Panama Canal

The NYT looks at the Panama Canal expansion project (via John Cole):
About a mile long, several hundred feet wide and more than 100 feet deep, the excavation is an initial step in the building of a larger set of locks for the Panama Canal that should double the amount of goods that can pass through it each year.
The $5.25 billion project, scheduled for completion in 2014, is the first expansion in the history of the century-old shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific. By allowing much bigger container ships and other cargo vessels to easily reach the Eastern United States, it will alter patterns of trade and put pressure on East and Gulf Coast ports like Savannah, Ga., and New Orleans to deepen harbors and expand cargo-handling facilities.
Right now, with its two lanes of locks that can handle ships up to 965 feet long and 106 feet wide — a size known as Panamax — the canal operates at or near its capacity of about 35 ships a day. During much of the year, that can mean dozens of ships are moored off each coast, waiting a day or longer to enter the canal.
The new third set of locks will help eliminate some of those backlogs, by adding perhaps 15 passages to the daily total. More important, the locks will be able to handle “New Panamax” ships — 25 percent longer, 50 percent wider and, with a deeper draft as well, able to carry two or three times the cargo.
That's a pretty cool project.  It will directly benefit trade to and from the United States.  Hopefully, all goes well in construction.

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