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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


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

Joseph Huang, Principal, Architect

We share the latest design technologies—from reality capture to virtual reality—and help people to apply these tools on their projects.

Vik Iso-Ahola , Vice President, Energy

I’m passionate about leading teams to solve the largest, most complex water infrastructure projects—and our Company does that every day.

Michael Newbery , Senior Vice President, Energy

My goals as a leader are to collaborate with clients, work with the project team, lead by example, and deliver projects safely and successfully—all while having fun.
Michael  Newbery Senior Vice President, Energy Read More

Francisco Tesi, Senior Associate, Energy

Constructing global dams developments requires strong leadership from planning through construction, as well as a dedication to deliver on our brand promise.

Christine Weber, Principal, Energy

I’m immensely pleased when our hard-earned knowledge and experience lead to elegant solutions for complex dam designs and dam safety issues.

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

Christopher Eden, Senior Associate, Electrical Engineer

I am driven by the challenge of finding unique solutions and honing them with a multidisciplinary team to best serve our clients’ goals.
Christopher Eden Senior Associate, Electrical Engineer Read More

Joseph Huang

Principal, Architect

Vik Iso-Ahola

Vice President, Energy

Michael  Newbery

Senior Vice President, Energy

Francisco Tesi

Senior Associate, Energy

Christine Weber

Principal, Energy

Craig Wilcox

Vice President, Director of Engineering Delivery

Christopher Eden

Senior Associate, Electrical Engineer

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