The last of 16 giant rolling gates for the new locks of the expanded Panama Canal was installed into place Thursday, marking a major milestone in the construction project.
The gate, weighing about 4,200 tons, was slid into place in concrete wall of the new locks on the Pacific side using self-propelled motorized wheel transporters. The gate measures 57.6 meters long, 10 meters wide and 33 meters tall.
The Panama Canal Authority says that with the installation of the final gate, the expansion project is now 88% complete. Flooding of the new locks is expected in the next couple months.
The installation of the gates for the new locks began in December 2014 on the Atlantic side, followed by the Pacific side gates beginning in January 2015.
The two new lock complexes – on the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the canal – have a total of 16 gates, eight on each side, which were delivered from Italy in shipments of 4 beginning in August 2013. All 16 gates have the same length – 57.6 meters – but vary in height, width and weight depending on their location in the locks.
The Panama Canal Expansion consists on the construction of a third lane of traffic allowing the passage of larger vessels, which will effectively double the Canal’s capacity. The Third Set of Locks are expected to become operational in 2016.
Expanded Panama Canal Lock Gate Inforgraphic (click image for larger):