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Panama Canal marks arrival of rolling gates for expansion project

The first four gates for the Panama Canal's new locks recently arrived from the port of Trieste, Italy, marking a milestone in the ongoing expansion program, according to the Panama Canal Authority.

Built by subcontractor Cimolai SpA, the gates are 189 feet long, 33 feet wide and 99 feet high, and weigh an average of 3,100 tons. The gates will be installed in the middle chamber of the new locks on the Atlantic side of the canal.

"This is an exciting moment for the Panama Canal — the arrival of the new gates marks a great progress for this engineering project," said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano in a press release. "With the expansion, we will further reinforce our position as the maritime and logistics hub of the Americas."

The new locks of the expanded Panama Canal will require 16 steel rolling gates, or eight for each new lock complex. The gates are being shipped four at a time from Italy.

Currently, the expansion is about 62 percent complete, according to the authority. To be completed in 2015, the project involves the construction of a third lane of traffic to accommodate the passage of Post-Panamax vessels, which will double the canal's capacity and significantly impact world maritime trade, authority officials said.

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