Panama looking to resume works on US$1.5bn fourth Panama Canal bridge

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, January 04, 2022
Panama looking to resume works on US$1.5bn fourth Panama Canal bridge

The Panamanian government intends to resume construction of the US$1.5bn fourth bridge over the Panama Canal this year, after postponing the project in 2020 due to lack of funding and in order to make changes. 

Public works minister Rafael Sabonge (pictured) told reporters on Monday that the project would restart this year, but he did not specify how the government plans to finance its construction.

The government expects to present the financial and technical changes made to the project soon, he was reported as saying by local press, adding that the bridge’s new design is now 90% complete. 

Under the administration of former president Juan Carlos Valera (2014-19), the government planned to build the fourth bridge over the waterway in tandem with works on line No. 3 of the Panama Metro.  

In 2018, the bridge project was awarded to the Panamá Cuarto Puente consortium, comprising Chinese state-owned firms China Harbour Engineering Company and China Construction Communications Company (CCCC). 

The metro project was awarded to Consorcio HPH Joint Venture in February 2020. This consortium was formed by Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Posco.

However, under the administration of current President Laurentino Cortizo, the public works ministry (MOP) decided to divide the projects, as the complexities would have delayed the works further.

So, in 2020, the finance and economy ministry (MEF) postponed funding for the bridge in order to prioritize building the US$2.5bn metro line that will now cross the canal via a 5.3km tunnel running 64m underneath the waterway. 

The government always said the bridge project would be resumed sooner or later, however. 


Separating the metro line and the bridge project involves various modifications to the original project, which are currently being analyzed between the government and Panamá Cuarto Puente. 

Some of these include removing the two lanes where the monorail line would have been and altering the alignments of the original cable-stayed structure, according to daily La Prensa, which also said that plans for building a new restaurant as part of the project have been scratched to reduce the costs. 

The one thing that will remain the same is the number of lanes, with the bridge still expected to have three in each direction, La Prensa reported. 

ALSO READ: Is Panama pushing China out of its infra sector?

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