The Panama Canal is an approximately 80 km-long ship canal that connects the port of Col n on the Atlantic Ocean to the Bridge of the Americas, near Panama City, on the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key route for international maritime trade. The Panama Canal serves more than 144 maritime routes connecting 160 countries and reaching some 1,700 ports in the world; it is estimated that between 13,000 and 14,000 ships use the canal every year.

The lock chamber is used for raising and lowering boats and ships between different levels on river and canal waterways. 33.5 meters wide by 304.8 meters long, the current lock allows the transit of ships with maximum dimensions of 32 meters in beam and 294 meters long. The water used to raise and lower vessels in each set of locks comes from Gatun Lake (26 meters above sea level) by gravity through a system of culverts.
Owner ACP (Autoridad del Canal de Panama)
Contractor 1st Lot: GUPC (Grupo Unidos por el Canal) SACYR - SALINI - IMPREGILO - JAN DE NULA - CUSA
2nd Lot: PAC 4 ICA-FCC-MECO consortium
Duration of work 2010 - 2015

The Panama Canal Expansion is the largest project ever sincets original construction. The project will create a new lane of traffic along the Canal thanks to the construction of a new set of locks, doubling the waterways capacity. The overall work has a cost of US$ 5.25 billion and consists in four main projects: construction of the new locks, building the new Pacific access channel, dredging the waterway and raising the Gatun lake maximum operational level.

The Canal expansion work officially began in 2007 with dry excavations of a 6,1 km long access channel with 50 million m3 of material hollowed, that will link the new set of locks on the Pacific side to Culebra Cut, a man-made channel linking up Gatun lake.

The new Pacific access channel allows to bypass the Miraflores lake and will operate 9 meters above the existing channel; for this reason a 2.3 km-long dam is also being built to separate lake waters from those of the new channel.

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