ENR Editor-in-Chief Janice Tuchman has visited signature buildings under construction around the world and sent three staff members to write about the Panama Canal.
When she made her own visit to Panama earlier this month to cover an American Society of Civil Engineers' conference, Tuchman was finally able to experience first-hand some of the wonder of the historic passage and the expansion project that is now 78% complete.
For many details in her forthcoming feature, which will appear in ENR's Dec. 15 Global Sourcebook, Tuchman says she appreciates briefings from the Panama Canal Authority and its consultants and contractors.
She enjoyed the chance to "get up close and personal" with huge new lock gates manufactured in Italy and awaiting installation at the site. Gates for the new third lane of the canal arrived on post-Panamax vessels, which are too big to pass through the current canal-lock system but will fit through the new one.
Beyond the canal itself, there was plenty to see. Tuchman says she was impressed along with other tourists by the new Biomuseo, the just-opened museum designed by Frank Gehry. It tells the story of how 3 million to 4 million years ago the rising land of the Isthmus of Panama joined the previously separated North and South American continents, allowing their diverse species—including humans—to populate both continents.
Tuchman also visited the site of a third bridge being built over the canal, allowing Panamanians easier access from one side of their country to the other on the Atlantic coast. When the tour arrived at the bridge-construction site, Tuchman says, "the heavens opened," a reminder of Panama's climate and its challenges. "Our tour guide said cheerily, 'Welcome to the rainforest!'"