Panama Canal Expansion

“A Man, A Plan, A Canal – Panama,” is perhaps the greatest palindrome of all time. And now, the $5.2 billion canal-expansion project, which just broke ground and is scheduled to be completed in time to mark the 100th anniversary of the canal in 2014, is perhaps the greatest remodeling project of all time.

The expansion of the world’s most important commercial route consists of building a third set of locks that are 40 percent longer and 60 percent wider than the original locks, allowing the Panama Canal to double its shipping capacity by 2025.

Times have changed the way the project is being planned and executed. Whereas the first lock system was built based on 20th century navigation experience, today engineers from all over the world are collaborating on developing complex, three-dimensional design models based on new technologies and sophisticated water-use studies.

Panama’s tropical environment, once considered an obstacle to progress, is now viewed as key to making the project sustainable for the next 100 years.

And basic advances in hygiene, health and safety have essentially eliminated the threats of malaria and yellow fever, which claimed tens of thousands of lives during construction of the original canal.

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