Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The New Panama Canal

...and how it will affect Houston.

by: Paul E. Martin, AIA

Not much of a secret; the Panama Canal is being widened and lengthened to accommodate super tankers and super cargo ships. The $30 billion+ project began construction in 2007 and is scheduled for completion in 2014.

The impetus to do so came from the increased trade between the United States and China and the growth of ships greater than the capacity that the Panama Canal can now accommodate. Currently 4% of all world trade passes through the Panama Canal. Some sources anticipate that cargo passing through the canal will increase by 50%. A modest sum by most standards, however others anticipate that the impact will be double and much of the destination ports for the United States will move from the eastern and western ports to Gulf ports. The largest of the Gulf ports, Houston, will be supported by recent construction of the Bayport Super Port, widening and deepening of the Houston Ship Chanel, security upgrades and the existing inter-modal system of distribution. Other ports that will benefit are Galveston, New Orleans and Tampa...