Expansion of Panama Canal expected to open in 2016

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

MADRID (AP) — Panama's president says the major expansion of the Panama Canal will be completed in time to open for business in the beginning of 2016.

The project is expected to be finished in December 2015, and President Juan Carlos Varela says it will open early the following year, despite construction setbacks.

A dispute with the European consortium that is expanding the canal led to a two-week work stoppage earlier this year.

Varela said Tuesday in Spain that Panama is working closely with Madrid and with Spanish company Sacyr, which is leading the consortium.

The $5.25 billion project aims to reduce congestion and expand capacity. The new channel will be able to accommodate ships with twice the cargo capability of vessels that currently traverse the existing canal.