Are U.S East Coast Ports ready for the Panama Canal expansion?
On June 26th the newly widen Panama Canal opened its third lane that will be used to accommodate larger container ships. The Panama Canal Expansion doubled the capacity of the canal. Along with a new lane, the canal has enlarged it locks that are 180 feet wide and 60 feet deep, compared to the 110-foot-wide 42-foot-deep 1914 canal. The nine-year expansion project cost a total of $5.25 billion. This is great news, but are the U.S. east coast ports ready for the Panama Canal Expansion?
U.S. East Coast ports have invested millions of dollars to be able to handle these larger ships. However most of the ports are still not ready for the change yet, and are still working on the upgrades. Many experts are saying that the U.S. East Coast ports looking to use the Panama Canal expansion to gain traffic for the congested West Coast ports have failed to invest in infrastructure and are years away from being ready for the extra business.
The ports of Miami and Baltimore completed deepening their channel and installed super cranes to handle the larger ships that will be coming their way. Mobile, Alabama is also preparing to add new cranes that will be able to handle ships with containers up to 21 containers across. More Cranes have been replaced at the Barbours Cut in Houston plus they are looking to expand the capacity of both Barbours Cut and Bay port Container terminals. This project should be completed in 2021 with a price tag of $1.6 Billion.
The port of New York and New Jersey expects to complete a $1.6 billion project later this summer to deepen their channels. They are also facing another project that is a year behind schedule. They need to raise the Bayonne Bridge; the bridge is too low to allow the largest container vessels to pass under it en-route to the terminals.
Bad news for the Port of Savannah too, they need to deepen the Savannah river from 42 to 47 feet along the 39 miles from its mouth up to the port. They have put in more than 15 years of research and began working on this project last September and is expected to be completed as early as 2021. This project is estimated to cost the port of Savannah $706 Million Dollars.
For East Coast ports its looking like it will be at least until 2020 before they will be able to handle high volume container ships. The reason for this is because of delayed upgrades, port fixes, and global economy crisis. This is definitely not convincing importers to use East Coast ports.
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