Newly-expanded Panama Canal opens

Aerial view of the new Agua Clara Locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. The new three-step lock system runs parallel to the existing Gatun Locks built in 1914.Aerial view of the new Agua Clara Locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. The new three-step lock system runs parallel to the existing Gatun Locks built in 1914.

The Panama Canal’s long-planned expansion is finally complete as of Sunday, June 26.

Overdrive sister site CCJ Editor Jeff Crissey reported on the opening of the expanded Canal in a multipart series – the first part of which can be seen here.

Before the expansion, ship size was limited to 965 feet long and 106 feet wide. Now, the Canal can accommodate ships up to 1,200 feet long and 160 feet wide. Construction on the expansion began 9 years ago in 2007.

Crissey reports here that if the expansion impacts U.S. freight patterns and trucking operations, it will likely come from containers moving from West Coast ports to East Coast ports.

“Any migration of eastbound container traffic from West Coast to East Coast would result in less rail and long-haul truck services and increase those services along the eastern U.S. seaboard,” Crissey said in his report. “The degree to which that will happen remains unknown, but even a 10 percent shift could have major ramifications for surface freight patterns.”

More on the impacts of the Canal’s expansion on the U.S. trucking industry can be seen in Part 3 of Crissey’s series here. Part 2, which focuses on the impact of the expansion on Panama’s economy, can be seen here.

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