Construction expert Gabriel Btesh provides a professional look at one of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ seven wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal.
Completed more than a century ago, the Panama Canal, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, remains one of the seven wonders of the modern world, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. A celebrated construction company owner from the Central and South American Republic of Panama, Gabriel Btesh offers an expert look at the 82-kilometer-long artificial waterway and engineering marvel, now a world-famous conduit for maritime trade.
“Connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean, the Panama Canal is an artificial waterway stretching 82 kilometers across the Isthmus of Panama,” explains Gabriel Btesh, owner of a renowned construction company based in the Central and South American nation’s capital of Panama City.
Initially completed in 1914, ongoing construction on the canal continues to this day, according to Gabriel Btesh. “A wider lane of locks, the third such set on the canal, was completed relatively recently, in May 2016, for example,” adds the construction expert, “after almost a decade of work.”
An ongoing construction effort, the Panama Canal and surrounding Panama Canal Zone have, to date, been overseen to some degree by Panama, France, Colombia, and the United States alike during the last century or more.
In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the Panama Canal one of its seven wonders of the modern world. Considered one of the greatest civil engineering achievements of the 20th century by the professional body, other engineering marvels to make the list include the Channel Tunnel, the Empire State Building, and the Golden Gate Bridge, according to Gabriel Btesh.
Contrary to its recognition as a strictly 20th-century civil engineering achievement, the Panama Canal’s history actually begins in 1881 when France originally started work on the idea. Struggling with engineering obstacles and quickly resulting in untold casualties, early work on the canal soon stopped. “It wasn’t until 1904 that work resumed, overseen by the United States,” Gabriel Btesh explains. “Incredibly,” he goes on, “the engineering marvel opened just a decade later, on August 15, 1914, immediately and greatly reducing travel time for ships between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.”
Even today, more than 100 years on, the Panama Canal remains one of the largest and most complicated construction and engineering projects ever undertaken anywhere in the world, Gabriel Btesh further points out.
Partial control of the canal was handed to Panama by the United States in 1977. Full control of the 82-kilometer-long artificial waterway was then assumed by the Panamanian government in 1999. “A true construction and engineering marvel, the Panama Canal has now been successfully managed and operated,” adds Gabriel Btesh, wrapping up, “wholly by the government-owned Panama Canal Authority for more than two decades.”