Contributed by: Don Winner#Panama - Amid applause, in an act of protocol act by ships of the ACP, the water from Gatun Lake begins to flood the new phase of inter-oceanic canal, which will be used in the future by Post Panamax ships. At about 9:30 am on Wednesday, October 18, president Ricardo Martinelli opened the valve that will allow for the slow flooding of the first part of the dry excavation work done as part of the construction of the third set of locks, one of the major projects of the Panama Canal expansion. Martinelli said during the ceremony that the project to expand the Panama Canal, together with the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, will provide many benefits to the country. He added he would propose to the National Assembly the creation of a sovereign fund created from the tolls paid by ships passing the Panama Canal, to be used to benefit the people and improve their quality of life.
Progress of The Expansion Program: The project to expand the Panama Canal is 33% completed, and expected to be ready by 2014, the year the waterway will be celebrating 100 years of operation. This part of the project, whose cost of design, contracting and administration, was $36.6 million dollars, included the excavation of 8.2 million cubic meters of material, cleaning 190 acres of former shooting ranges, and the leveling of Paradise Hill from 46 meters to 27.5 meters above sea level. During the nearly three years of implementation, this project was completed in the expected time and cost and in compliance with stringent environmental, safety, hygiene and quality requirements, according to information from the ACP. To date three of the four phases of dry excavation have been completed, of the 6.1 km long channel to be used by the Post Panamax vessels once the expansion program is completed. (Estrella)