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'Puente Centenario' or 'Segundo Puente Sobre El Canal ( Second Bridge over the Panama Canal )'

About 42 years Panama had only one road crossing point over the Canal , the ‘Puente de las Americas (Bridge of the Americans) built in 1962.

When this bridge was opened, 9,500 vehicles crossed the bridge daily; now 2004 this number reached 35,000 (most of this traffic in the rush-houers) and reached its capacity limits. You can imagine what this mean to a four-lane bridge, I suffer by my self on this every morning on the way to the job-site. In response to this the Panamanian Ministry of Public Works give the oder to build a second bridge -the Puente Centenario (Centennial Bridge)- in order that the first crossing of this new bridge will coincide with the 90th anniversary of the very first ship journey through the canal (the US cargo ship Ancon, on 15 August 1914).

The project foresees the construction of a 1.1 km bridge and includes an Eastern motorway between Panama City and the new bridge and a Western motorway, the existing La Chorrera motorway. It will open a new transport corridor providing better connection to the Pan-American Highway as well as facilitating the flow of freight traffic in Panama and in Central American Countries.

The second bridge will also help to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety in Panama City Benefits will accrue from time and vehicle operating cost savings. The project will also help to reduce emissions and noise levels. The new bridge was designed by a joint venture between TY Lin International and the Louis Berger Group Inc, for which the consortium was awarded $2.8 million. Bilfinger Berger AG (Germany), working with Australian subsidiary Baulderstone Hornibrook, were the building contractors and completed the project in just 27 months. But the second bridge over the Panama Canal won’t be finished complete as planned before Mireya Moscoso leaves office at the end of August for traffic (the bridge isn’t connected to any roads as yet and won’t be for some time.) So, instead of the usual inauguration ceremony for a public work, Mireya held a July 5 “pre-inauguration ceremony” in which she left her hand prints in the cement of the bridge’s surface and posed for photos with construction workers and executives.

The new Panama Canal crossing is a cable-stayed bridge carrying six lanes of traffic (two carriageways of three lanes) across the canal. The bridge has a total span of 1,052m with a main span of 320m and 80m of vertical navigational clearance to allow large vessels to pass through safely.

Two tapering 184m towers support a single plane of cables. The concrete superstructure consists of a single box with cantilevered concrete ribs. Approximately 66,000m³ of concrete, 12,000t of reinforcement, 1,400t of stays, 700t of post-tensioning, 1,000t of structural steel and 100,000m³ of earthwork were required during the project. A floating crane, called Titan, is permanently stationed in the canal to be used for rescue services, repairing lock gates, etc. Since this machine needed to be able to pass under the new bridge, sufficient clearance was necessary, hence the unusually high vertical clearance. Titan is one of three cranes that was originally built in Germany and taken to the US after World War II; it has been deployed in the Panama Canal ever since.

Key Data Second Bridge over the Panama Canal
Sponsor: Panama Ministry of Public Works
Main contractor: Bilfinger Berger AG (International)
Bridge design: TY Lin International, Louis Berger Group Inc
Design checking: COWI Consulting Engineers and Planners AS
Structural and
construction engineering:
Leonhardt, Andra and Partner, Baulderstone Hornibrook
Cable subcontractor: Freyssinet International
Cost $120 million
Project Cable-stayed bridge carrying six lanes of traffic, total span of 1,052m, main span of 320m and 80m of vertical navigational clearance
Completion August 2004

If you are intrested in The Canal, maybe you like this here: The Panama Canal Zone Cyber Museum

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Created on ... February 26, 2005
copyright © Uwe Baier