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The Panama Canal Authority put the second of five dry excavation contracts required for the canal's $5.25-billion expansion on the street this past week.

On Tuesday, the agency, known by its Spanish acronym ACP, released a request for proposal for a contract for removal of 7.5 million cubic meters in a 2.4-kilometers stretch.

The expansion will add larger sets of locks on each end of the canal, creating a new lane of traffic through the waterway. When completed in 2014, the project will double the tonnage capacity and allow the transit of substantially larger vessels.

The dry-excavation contract is the second of five needed to create a 6.7 km link between the existing navigational channel at the entrance to the Gaillard Cut and the new set of locks that will be constructed on the Pacific side of the canal.

The entire Pacific Locks Access Channel will remove 46.8 million cubic meters of material at an estimated cost of $400 million.

Proposals are due October 31 and the ACP will award the contract to the firm or consortia with the lowest priced proposal that meets all of the project's requirements, officials said.

Earlier this month, Panamanian contractor Constructora Urbana S.A. (CUSA) began work on the first dry excavation contract after submitting the winning bid of $41.1 million. That project includes the removal 7.3 million cubic meters of material.

Ten contractors from Panama, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Italy submitted bids. The sole US firm participating, Jay Cashman Inc. of Quincy, Mass., offered the highest bid of $89.97 million.

Like the first contract, the job will include substantial ancillary work such as the construction of a new section of road and a new crossing over the Cocoli River, in addition to the removal and/or relocation of electrical utilities, telecommunication lines, water lines, sanitation lines, ducts and sewers.