A segment of the new access channel to the Panama Canal’s new locks was filled with water on Wednesday.
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli activated valves allowing water to fill the new channel that will carry post-Panamax vessels between the new locks on the Pacific side of the canal and the Culebra Cut, which leads into Gatun Lake.
The entrance to the new channel, which runs under the Centennial Bridge, is a mile long, 715 feet wide and 30 feet above sea level. It will take about three days to fill the area up to the 41-foot water level and to reach the elevation of 21.64 feet above sea level, using 49 million cubic feet of water from Gatun Lake.
The rest of the new access channel is 3.8 miles long, and will be filled during 2013, once the 1.4-mile dam that separates it from the existing channel is completed.
The Belgian company Jan De Nul excavated and dredged 13.4 million cubic feet of material in this area under a $54.5 million contract it was awarded by the Panama Canal Authority in August 2010.
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