Really Big Dig
From the Desk of the Editor in Chief
This monthâ€™s cover story took a lot of diggingâ€”nearly 130 million cubic meters of rock and soil, enough to fill the Empire State Building about 130 times.
In 2014, the 5.25-billion expansion of the Panama Canal will be completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the opening of the 48-mile waterway through the Isthmus of Panama. The mammoth project, which began in 2006, includes two new sets of single-lane, three-step locks and deeper, wider shipping lanes. It will double the Canalâ€™s capacity, currently about 280 million tons of cargo carried on 14,000 vessels annually, and give the larger Suez Canal a run for its money.
The new and improved Panama Canal will permit huge post-Panamax cargo vessels to sail directly from Asia to East and Gulf Coast ports instead of offloading on the West Coast and shipping their goods across the United States by road or rail.
U.S. ports are scrambling to deepen their channels and install huge cranes that will enable them to cash in on a bonanza in increased Canal traffic that will be measured in billions of dollars. The potential shipping windfall is so big that traditional competitors, like Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC, appear to have declared a temporary truce and joined forces to attract the lionâ€™s share of new business from the Canal.