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Panama Canal expansion

Road bridge project under way

Pre-qualified bidders named


Amid news reports that the Panama Canal’s new locks will probably not be ready for the scheduled opening in October 2014, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced the pre-qualification of the two consortia and one company interested in bidding on a tender for a road bridge over the canal at its Atlantic end.

A report in a normally reliable global publication, the Journal of Commerce, said that, after a three-month delay, the locks would be ready for a trial run in December 2014. (See Grapevine). Although this story could not be confirmed at press time, there was no denial from the ACP up to then.

The bridge construction project is proceeding apace, however, with the naming of the three entities pre-qualified in the tender process. The pre-qualified tenderers are:

• Consorcio Acciona Infraestructuras-Tradeco (Spain and Mexico)

• Odebrecht and Hyundai Joint Venture (Brazil and South Korea)

• Vinci Construction Grands Projets (France).

The pre-qualification was made after a technical board comprising canal professionals analysed all the information submitted by the interested parties relative to the technical criteria, their experience and financial capacity. The bidders will now participate in the second round of the process, after which the contractor responsible for construction will be selected.

The second phase of the process will begin with the submission by the ACP of the instructions to tenderers. This will include the design and contract specifications; a special site visit organised for the pre-qualified tenderers; and the receipt of final proposals in or about August of this year.

Construction of the bridge by the ACP is authorised by law. It is included in Article 3 of Law 28 of July 17, 2006 – the legislation under which the construction of the Third Set of Locks for the Panama Canal was authorised. That legislation mandated the construction of a road bridge on the Atlantic side to link both canal banks.

The bridge design was inspired by similar existing infrastructure in France, Spain, China, South Korea and Japan. The double-plane, twin pylon, cable-stayed bridge will carry four lanes of traffic. It will be 4.6 km long and will rise 75 metres above sea level.

The bridge will be located 3 km north of Gatun Locks and the new post panamax locks on the Atlantic side and Thelma King Avenue in the province of Colon. Once completed, it will bring much-needed relief for neighbouring communities as it will ease the flow of vehicle traffic over the canal.