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Marine Log

April 25, 2006

$5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion plan

The Chairman of the Panama Canal Authority's (ACP) Board of Directors yesterday formally unveiled its recommendation to build a new lane along the Panama Canal that will double capacity and allow more traffic.

The project is estimated to cost $5.25 billion and will be paid entirely by users of the Canal through a graduated toll system.

Dr. Ricaurte Vasquez M., Chairman of the ACP's Board of Directors, submitted the recommendation to President Martin Torrijos at a Town Hall meeting in Panama today. The president will discuss the recommendation with his Cabinet, make a recommendation to the National Assembly, and the process will culminate with the Panamanian people voting in a national referendum.

Expansion would entail the creation of a new lane of traffic along the Canal through the construction of a new set of locks. Environmentally sound water-saving basins will be built alongside the new locks, which will reuse 60 percent of the water in each transit. This technology eliminates the need for constructing dams, flooding and displacing communities along the Canal's watershed.

Potential construction is slated for completion by 2014. ACP says it will use "all creative means" to stretch capacity until the construction is completed. The ACP forecasts that the Canal will reach full capacity by the time the expanded Canal is operational.

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