The Panama Canal has been one of the most strategic waterways in the world for a century. It was built with the expectation that ships would grow along with international trade, but no one in the early 20th century could have envisioned the massive ships traversing the seas today. Entire classes of ships are now too large to make the passage. At the turn of the 21st century, the Panama Canal Authority began planning to capture the revenue that was being lost from turning away this new generation of ships.
The new locks could increase canal capacity from 300 million to 600 million tons each year.
The Canal Expansion began with six years of research on economic feasibility and market demand. Scientists and engineers undertook more than 100 studies in all to support the decision-making process. The $5.2 billion investment broke ground in September 2007. Originally slated to finish in 2014 to coincide with the original canal’s centenary, the expansion is now expected to be completed by early 2016.