A joint U.S.-European group has presented the low bid to analyze the options for a vehicular crossing at the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal, officials said on Monday.
San Francisco-based URS Corp. and the Danish firm COWI A/S submitted a bid of $895,000—the lowest of five tendered—to examine the possibilities of a permanent crossing at the historic waterway’s Atlantic entrance that will allow uninterrupted traffic on that side of the isthmus.
The quasi-governmental body that oversees the waterway, the Panama Canal Authority, is expected to formally award the contract in the next few weeks, and the group will have 240 days to submit final plans for the crossing.
Moffat & Nichol of Long Beach, Calif., allied with Australian firm Arup’s U.S. division, bid $954,059, and a group led by the Louis Berger Group of Morristown, N.J., offered $1.25 million for the work. T.Y. Lin International led a multinational group that submitted a $942,000 tender, while a collaboration of the Spanish firms TYPSA and CFC SL proffered the high bid of almost $1.5 million.
Currently, travel across the Panama Canal on the Atlantic side of the isthmus is on a road directly in front of the Gatun Locks and must be stopped as vessels pass through the waterway. The ongoing, $5.2-billion Third Lane Expansion Project to the historic canal will include the construction of new locks that will sever the existing route for vehicle traffic.
Without another alternative for vehicle traffic, the opposite side of the isthmus will be completely cut off—including the existing Gatun Locks—when the expansion is completed in 2014 .
The ACP has examined several alternatives for the crossing including several bridge options as well as a tunnel. The last permanent road crossing built over the canal was the $120-million Centennial Bridge at the Galliard Cut, opened in 2004.