The Ministry of Public Works of Panama selected TYLin to provide a feasibility study, preliminary and final design, and field construction support services for the Second Crossing of the Panama Canal.
With a total superstructure length of 3,450 feet, the Panama Canal Second Crossing opened as the world’s third-longest concrete cable-stayed span and the longest concrete cable-stayed bridge span in the Americas.
The bridge carries six lanes of traffic (three in each direction) and was built to alleviate traffic congestion on the Bridge of the Americas, the only Panama Canal crossing at the time.
To complete construction within the allotted schedule, TYLin carried out the bridge design to 30 percent before construction bidding began. After contractor selection, the design was completed in conjunction with construction, much like the design-build process.
The 1,378-foot main span of the Panama Canal Second Crossing comprises two 614-foot-tall single-mast concrete towers, with one central plane of cables in the middle of the deck and 656-foot-long side spans on each tower. The superstructure is a continuous concrete box girder between abutments.
The west tower and approach structures had to be constructed over the soft soil layers of the “Cucaracha Formation,” a form of clay shale that is prone to landslides. For this reason, TYLin designed depth foundations consisting of cast-in-drilled-hole (CIDH) shafts that measured 6.5 feet in diameter and from 131 to 197 feet long. For eastside foundations, shorter 9.8-foot-diameter CIDH pile foundations were used.
- To expedite completion and ensure no disruption to Panama Canal ship traffic, the balanced cantilever construction of the cast-in-place concrete deck began shortly after the pylon construction reached elevation above the deck.
- The pylons, approach spans, and main span were constructed simultaneously, allowing the project to be completed in only 22 months, nearly five months ahead of the initial construction schedule.
- The bridge clearance of 262 feet provides ample space for ships navigating the Panama Canal.
- The six-lane bridge, which opened to carry a new highway system, served as the symbol of 100 years of Panamanian independence.