Weighing the effects of the Panama Canal expansion

It's been a year since the Panama Canal's $5.25 billion expansion wrapped up. The project involved widening the waterway and adding two new sets of locks to allow larger ships to pass through. While some observers predicted an uptick in traffic heading to East and Gulf coast ports after the expansion, the jury's still out on the project's actual impacts so far.

Even though the overall market share of traffic calling on those ports has grown compared to West Coast ports, the widened Panama Canal is just one factor, trade experts and ports leaders say. Still, the expanded canal could drive additional traffic increases in the future.

"We are seeing larger vessels moving through the Panama Canal, and that is having some positive impact on Halifax," Halifax Port Authority spokesman Lane Farguson told me last month.

To get a better understanding of all the factors at play, I reached out to a handful of ports, trade experts and railroads across North America. Take a look at my June cover story to read what I've learned.

If you're working in the intermodal realm in some capacity, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts, too. Have you seen any traffic shifts after the Panama Canal expansion? If traffic does continue to flow to the East Coast, will that be good or bad for railroads? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below, or shoot me an email at daniel.niepow@tradepress.com.

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