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4/14/2014 7:30:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Panama Canal Tour Sparks Talks on Need for Infrastructure Funds

American Trucking Associations
By Neil Abt, Managing Editor

This story appears in the April 14 print edition of Transport Topics.

The Panama Canal expansion project was intricate and inspiring for leading trucking executives, who said they are now more convinced than ever of the urgent need for U.S. highway funding in order to handle the larger freight volumes bound to emerge at ports in the coming years.

“The expansion project in and of itself is a construction marvel, and to see the current canal operations was also quite impressive,” said Bill Graves, president of American Trucking Associations, who led a delegation to survey the development.

Click here to see TT’s Panama Canal photo gallery:

“I have been on a lot of trips and seen a lot of things in 29 years with UPS all over the world,” added Pat Thomas, a UPS senior vice president and ATA vice chairman. “This was one of the most interesting and fascinating trips I have ever taken.”

The expansion, approved by the citizens of Panama during a 2006 vote, includes building two new sets of locks that will raise the maximum ship size to 13,200 20-foot equivalent unit containers — more than double the current limit — Canal officials said.

Those new supersize containerships are due to start coming through the 50-mile-long ship canal that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean next year, along with about 98% of all existing cargo ships. Each of the new sets of locks, one on the Pacific and one on the Atlantic side, will have three chambers and each chamber will have three water reutilization basins.

Many ports along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States are undergoing dredging projects in the hopes of winning some of the business currently flooding West Coast ports.

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