A construction team led by Spanish contractor Sacyr Vallehermoso SA has won the mammoth Panama Canal expansion’s largest contract to date: the design-build job to build a third set of locks on the waterway’s Atlantic and Pacific openings. The locks contract is the heart of the $5.2-billion effort begun in September 2007 to expand the historic waterway. The winning team, which includes two U.S. engineering firms, proposes to construct the locks for $3.12 billion. The job had been estimated by owner Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to cost $3.48 billion, the quasi-government agency revealed on July 8. Photo: C.J. Schexnayder/ENR Firms
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.