Since the handover of the Panama Canal back to Panama, permanent modernization programs have been underway. Perhaps no project has been as important as the widening of the Canal’s most narrow passage, the Gaillard Cut.
Previously only 152 meters, the Cut has been widened to 192 meters on its straight stretches and 222 meters on the curves. Ultimately, this modernization means that Panamax-size, two-way traffic can move simultaneously through the Cut. This has not been possible until now. The Canal’s capacity will be increased with no decrease in transit time.
Although the work has been completed early and under budget, simultaneous transits will be tested until the first Quarter of 2004, when, if they are satisfactory, regular simultaneous two-way transits will become a Canal fixture.