The first of new lock gates for the expanded Panama Canal have been transferred to the lock complex on the Atlantic side, marking another milestone in the $5 billion project to widen the canal.
For the operation, workers used a self-propelled wheel transporter to move the 3,000-ton steel structures from a temporary unloading dock in Colón to the Gaton Lock complex.
“This is a very important operation because it involved the first movement of the gates from the special dock where they were unloaded to the lower chamber of the new locks,” said Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.
The first eight of the 16 rolling gates that will be used for the new locks have already arrived in Panama in two seperate shipments aboard a heavy lift ship from their manufacturer in Italy. Over the next few days days, the four other gates will be moved to the dry lock chambers under construction to allow for the arrival of the remaining lock gates. The gates are being transported by way of a specially-designed ramp that was built to handle such heavy loads.
The Panama Canal Expansion program is currently 77% complete, according to the ACP.
On Monday, arbitration of the first claim in a $1.6 billion dispute between the ACP and the builder over cost overruns got under way in Miami. The dispute halted construction at the canal for weeks and pushed back the deadline for completion to December 2015.
Photos courtesy Panama Canal Authority