Since its inception in 2006, the most visible aspect of the Panama Canal’s $5.2-billion Third Lane Expansion project has been the excavation of the 6.7-kilometer-long Pacific Access Channel. With the completion of a $42.3-million, 1.8-km-long cofferdam this spring, that excavation is continuing as planned. The backfilled cellular cofferdam will hold back Miraflores Lake, the man-made body of water between the Miraflores locks and Pedro Miguel locks. Once the cofferdam is finished, excavation of 26 million cubic meters of material in the access-channel route can proceed as well as the construction of a permanent, $70-million, clay-core, basalt-rock-filled dam. The Pacific Access
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.