The Panama Canal Expansion Observation Center is located in Colon, about an hour from Panama City. Follow the road to Gatun Locks and as you get closer you can see the signs to the new Visitor Center.
At the Center you can enjoy the view of the new Panama Canal Locks construction, learn about the Canal with a guide, and watch the featured movie about the Canal operations.
The expansion consists on the construction of two new sets of locks - one on the Pacific and one on the Atlantic. Each lock will have three chambers and each chamber will have three water reutilization basins. This third set of locks will create a third lane of traffic for bigger ships, doubling the Canal's capacity.
The existing locks allow the passage of vessels that can carry up to 5,000 TEUs. After the expansion, the Post-Panamax vessels will be able to transit through the Canal, with up to 13,000 TEUs.
The last one of the 16 lock gates was installed the last week of April. By the end of May or beginning of June they expect to start flooding the Atlantic locks and after a few weeks the Pacific ones. For this they will use more than 20 million cubic meters of water. This third set of locks is expected to be opened for transit in 2016.
Written by Elvira Villalaz, GMS