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Massive Panama Concrete Bridge Nearly Complete

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

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The world’s longest prestressed concrete bridge is nearing completion over the Panama Canal, according to reports. The endeavor began in 2013, and once completed, will connect the banks of the canal’s Atlantic Ocean entrance.

The Atlantic Bridge, a four-lane cable-stayed structure, is located outside the city of Colón, Panama, and has a 1,750-foot-long central span. Designed by a consortium composed of China Communication Construction Company and consulting firm Louis Berger Group, the bridge is being built by VINCI Construction Grands Projets. The project was commissioned by Panama Canal Authority, with the construction contract totaling $366 million. 

Atlantic Bridge Project

To accommodate marine traffic, specifically today's larger "Neopanamax" container ships, the bridge has been designed with a 250-foot clearance. It will carry dual two-lane roads for automotive traffic, as well as pedestrians and cyclists. The span is supported by double-plane cables anchored to two main pylons, each standing 697 feet tall.

Reinforced concrete was the material of choice for this project, a decision made to account for the region’s corrosive environment, according to ArchDaily.

In order to prevent obstruction of traffic, work could not be completed in shipping canals, according to VINCI Construction Grands Projets—the bridge deck had to be cast in place, with the same method also used for the deck’s girders. Access viaduct decks were composed of precast concrete girders and installed in place.

Bridge Project History

According to The Business Year, the Atlantic Bridge project is part of a larger move to expand the Panama Canal, and includes the construction of viaducts on either side of the canal to connect with nearby infrastructure.

VINCI Construction Grands Projets is known for its work on the Normandy Bridge in France, as well the Confederation Bridge in Canada. Louis Berger Group was also involved with the construction of the two bridges already spanning the Panama Canal.

Construction began in May 2013, with a brief delay following in 2014 caused by a workers' strike led by the Construction Workers' Syndicate demanding higher wages and a review of security measures. Upon completion, the span will be the third to run over the Panama Canal, following the Bridge of the Americas and the Centennial Bridge. The bridge is slated to open in 2019.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Infrastructure; Latin America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; SA

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