Courtesy Reuters

Is a Second Canal Necessary?

THE ultimate transit capacity of the Panama Canal will not be reached in the next seventy-five years. This confident forecast is made with an assurance justified by a knowledge of its design, construction and latent possibilities, as well as of its functioning during the fifteen years since it was placed in service. It is a fact that the Canal is not now being operated even to 50 percent of its present capacity.

Descriptions of the Canal have often been published, but some details will be of interest even to readers who are not generally concerned with technicalities. The length of the Canal from ocean to ocean is 50 miles. Its highest water elevation above mean sea level is 87 feet; in other words, that is the average lift and consequent descent which a ship must make in passing through. The elevation of the bottom of the lake channels is 40 feet. The minimum depth of water on the miter sills of the locks is 41 feet, and in the sea level sections is 40 feet. The narrowest parts of the Canal are the locks, and throughout its entire length, excepting in the locks, there is ample room for ships to pass each other. The width of the channel through Galliard Cut is 300 feet, thus providing safe room for the meeting and passing of ships of any present or probable future beam.

There are double (or twin) locks in three steps at Gatun on the Atlantic side, double locks in two steps at Miraflores, and double locks in one step at Pedro Miguel on the Pacific side. The locks are 1,000 feet in length; the lock chambers have a usable length of 1,000 feet and a usable width of 110 feet, and by intermediate movable gates they can be divided into two sections of 650 and 350 feet respectively, permitting lockages of small ships to be made with the minimum loss of water. The average time required for passing a ship through the locks is about fifty minutes, and the average time used

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