The Panama Canal expansion project (also called the Third Set of Locks Project) is intended to double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2016 by creating a new lane of traffic and allowing more and larger ships to transit.
The project is planned to:
Build two new locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides. Each will have three chambers with water-saving basins.
Excavate new channels to the new locks.
Widen and deepen existing channels.
Allow ships around one and a half times the current width and length, with over twice as much cargo to pass.
Raise the maximum operating level of Gatun Lake.
Then-Panamanian President Martín Torrijos formally proposed the project on 24 April 2006, saying it would transformPanama into a First World country. A national referendum approved the proposal by a 76.8 percent majority on 22 October, and the Cabinet and National Assembly followed suit. The project formally began in 2007. It was initially announced that the Canal expansion would be completed by August 2014 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal but various setbacks, including strikes and disputes with the construction consortium over cost overruns, pushed the completion date first to June 2015 then December 2015. On 14 April 2015, Canal Project Minister Roberto Roy announced that the Canal expansion would be operational by 1 April 2016.