Senator tours canal expansion

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 28, 2013

LAPLACE – A delegation of state transportation leaders from eight Southern states, including Sen. Gary Smith, recently traveled to Panama for high-level briefings on the Panama Canal expansion project.
The delegation agenda was designed to reinforce the need for southern ports to continue essential infrastructure enhancements to accommodate the significantly larger vessels and expanded cargo volumes expected to arrive after the completion of the Panama Canal expansion.
Louisiana is a Southern Legislative Conference state that is expected to be impacted directly by the increase in cargo and vessel traffic in the aftermath of the Panama Canal expansion. In 2012, total U.S. exports to Panama amounted to $9.8 billion, and Louisiana’s exports totaled more than $825.7 million. The decision to proceed with the $5.25 billion expansion project has been touted as one of the most transformative global transportation projects currently in progress. Upon completion in 2014, the Panama Canal will facilitate an even greater flow of trade between Asia and the Americas and substantially impact the volume of trade reaching Gulf and Atlantic Coast ports in the United States.
The delegation meetings began with a series of briefings and a tour of the Panama Canal Authority. At the Miraflores Center, the delegation received a detailed briefing on the expansion effort and its critical importance in the effective and efficient transfer of cargo between Asia and the Americas. Officials with the Panama Canal Authority elaborated on the role of the Canal’s expansion in the context of surging global trade and the contemporary shipping industry trend of deploying larger vessels to take advantage of economies of scale. A visit to the control tower of the current locks was also included on the technical tour.