The Panama Canal’s long awaited $5.5 billion expansion is nearly complete, after nearly a decade since it’s approval. Ports on the East Coast of the U.S. have been gearing up for the new larger container ships soon headed their way. And all those new jobs are sure to affect real estate values in those port cities.
Last month, dozens of people gathered at the Panama Canal Authority's headquarters to see which ship would be chosen for the maiden voyage scheduled for June 26. Cosco, a Chinese shipping company, was the winner.
The Panama Canal expansion effectively doubles the canal’s capacity, allowing new mega container ships to make it through the canal for travel directly to the East Coast. These new ships are called Post Panamax ships and are nearly double in size.
Until now, supersize vessels could only fit in the ports of Long Beach, CA or Seattle, WA and then the cargo would be shipped across the country to the East Coast via trucks or trains. Or, the cargo would have to go on smaller ships that could fit through the canal. Now these goods can travel on one ship instead of two, which will save companies thousands of dollars in shipping costs.
As soon as the Panama Canal expansion was announced in 2007, port authorities from Miami to New York started racing to complete their own expansion programs. They hope to be the first to accommodate these new larger vessels by dredging deeper shipping channels, but at a very high cost.
It has all sparked fierce debate in Jacksonville, Florida, as port officials there fight to remain competitive.
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