While the U.S. continues a decades-long trend of not reinvesting and upgrading our vastly important river infrastructure, the new Panama Canal expansion has contributed to a record 403.8 million tons of goods through the Canal in its first fiscal year.
This is the largest amount of annual tonnage ever transited in its 103-year history. The 22.2 percent increase from the previous year can be directly attributed to the added capacity provided by the Expanded Canal.
According to figures, the Panama Canal transited a total of 13,548 vessels during its FY17, representing a 3.3 percent increase compared to totals the year before. Thanks to the larger Neopanamax vessels now able to transit the Expanded Canal, the growth in traffic translated into a 22.2 percent increase in total annual tonnage from FY16, and helped the Panama Canal surpass the already ambitious cargo projection of reaching 399 million PC/UM.
“This year’s success is a testament to the Expanded Canal’s success,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. “These record figures reflect not only the industry’s confidence in the Expanded Canal but also illustrate the Panama Canal’s continued ability to transform the global economy and revitalize the maritime industry.”
The news speaks volumes about the worldwide marketplace we now live in and market opportunities America is missing because of its outdated and dilapidated river infrastructure.
Without authorized funding, LaGrange Lock and Dam on the Illinois River – just one example of a lock and dam system that is in dire need of upgrade – will not be replaced until at least 2064. LaGrange was built between 1936 and 1939 to handle steamboats traveling up and down the river. It is currently disintegrating into the river.