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Panama Canal Expansion - Third Set of Locks

Updating an engineering wonder for the 21st century

  • 8M

    Pounds Per Gate

  • 60%

    Fresh Water Reused

  • 4.3M

    Cubic Meters of Concrete

  • Panama

    Panama

Accommodating more ships with a third set of locks

The Panama Canal Authority had to decide: modernize or risk becoming a tourist attraction. Their existing canals were too small to accommodate the ships that currently traversed the ocean. The solution? Build a third set of locks.

We formed a diverse global team of engineers to design the world’s largest lock system, and—using building information modeling (BIM) technology—the team was able to collaborate efficiently. The shared models helped resolve design conflicts prior to construction, saving time and money. The new locks are longer, deeper, and wider, with the ability to transport ships three times larger than the existing locks. There’s a single lane of traffic that had to meet a 99.6 percent reliability, while also meeting a design requirement of 100 years. It also had to withstand seismic loads of 0.72g.

Lake Gatun is the primary fresh water source for the Panamanian community, so the project had to be sustainable and environmentally conscious. The new design incorporated the world’s largest water saving basins resulting in 60 percent of the fresh water being reused per transit. And, the new gates used seven percent less water than the existing locks.

Now an estimated 95 percent of container ships can use the world’s largest shortcut, revolutionizing world trade. 

Meet Our Team

Craig Wilcox, Vice President, Director of Engineering Delivery

Our breadth and depth of internal technical resources aren’t only well known in the industry—we’re sought out to solve the most challenging problems.
Craig Wilcox Vice President, Director of Engineering Delivery Read More

Vik Iso-Ahola , Vice President, Civil Engineer, WaterPower & Dams

I’m passionate about leading teams to solve the largest, most complex water infrastructure projects—and our Company does that every day.
Vik Iso-Ahola Vice President, Civil Engineer, WaterPower & Dams Read More

Nicholas Pansic, Vice President, Civil Engineer, WaterPower & Dams

I have been fortunate to work on projects that develop the supporting infrastructure in a sustainable way, leading to economic growth and societal advancement worldwide.
Nicholas  Pansic Vice President, Civil Engineer, WaterPower & Dams Read More

Francisco Tesi, Senior Associate, WaterPower and Dams

Constructing global dams developments requires strong leadership from planning through construction, as well as a dedication to deliver on our brand promise.
Francisco Tesi Senior Associate, WaterPower and Dams Read More

Joseph Huang, Principal, Architect, WaterPower & Dams

We share the latest design technologies—from reality capture to virtual reality—and help people to apply these tools on their projects.
Joseph Huang Principal, Architect, WaterPower & Dams Read More
  • Craig Wilcox

    Vice President, Director of Engineering Delivery

  • Vik Iso-Ahola

    Vice President, Civil Engineer, WaterPower & Dams

  • Nicholas  Pansic

    Vice President, Civil Engineer, WaterPower & Dams

  • Francisco Tesi

    Senior Associate, WaterPower and Dams

  • Joseph Huang

    Principal, Architect, WaterPower & Dams

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