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

The ACP announced today that as of Monday, June 28, 2004, the number of vessels waiting to transit the Canal has returned to normal levels, with just 17 vessels currently queuing – a considerable reduction from the 55 vessels waiting June 23, 2004.

On May 31, 2004, the ACP closed the West lane of Gatun Locks to replace the locomotive tow tracks, aimed to enhance the waterway’s safety, reliability and efficiency. The ACP returned the lane back to service the morning of Wednesday, June 9, 2004 – 42 hours ahead of schedule.

Lane outages are scheduled to occur once every month – for a maximum of 11 days for each outage – from June to October 2004. Notice of major outages is given at least six months in advance. The tow track replacement will dramatically improve the Canal’s operations and is part of its modernization program.