The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) released the following traffic and operations notice today:

On June 8, 2004, the ACP reported that a lane was closed at the Panama Canal to replace the locomotive tow tracks at its Atlantic Locks to enhance the waterway’s safety, reliability and efficiency. These lane outages are scheduled to take place once every month – for a maximum of 11 days for each outage – from June until October 2004. Notice of major outages is given at least six months in advance.

The lane is back in operation. To ease the effects of the outage, the ACP deployed additional crews and resources that returned it to service the morning of Wednesday, June 9, 2004 – 42 hours ahead of schedule.

As of today, there is a backlog of 55 vessels waiting to transit the Canal. The backlog is due to the past lane outage and a significant rise in traffic – a 15 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Vessels waiting to transit the Canal should return to normal levels – below 40 – this weekend.

Panama Canal customers have been notified of this situation. The ACP greatly appreciates their patience and understanding. The tow track replacement will dramatically improve the Canal’s operations and is part of its modernization program.