Expanded Panama Canal Lock Flooding to Begin This Week

Expanded Panama Canal gate installation.
Expanded Panama Canal gate installation.

 

The contractor in charge of the design and construction of the new set of locks for the expanded Panama Canal says it will begin flooding the lock complexes this week.

The contractor, Grupo Unidos por el Canal SA (GUPC), says it will open five valves on the Atlantic side this week that will begin the flow of water into the new lock chambers.

Project manager at GUPC, Jose Pelaez, says that the up to five million cubic meters of water will be used to fill the two chambers on the Atlantic side. The operation is expected to take a total of four days and marks the

“After this phase, we will be able to start testing the first two gates and so on,” he added.

The entire process of flooding and testing could take about three to four months total, GUPC said.

The Panama Canal expansion project involves the construction of a third lane of traffic, or Third set of Locks, which will allow the passage of larger vessels and effectively double the Canal’s capacity. 

The two new lock complexes will have a total of 16 gates, eight in the Pacific and eight in the Atlantic, which were delivered from Italy beginning in August 2013 and have now been installed in placed.

The Third Set of Locks are expected to become operational in 2016.