Panamax components

The Atlantic Bridge over the Panama Canal, construction of which was completed in August 2019, is a spectacular bridge that required extraordinary components in its construction

With its 579-yard (530-metre) main span, Panama’s new Puente Atlántico is the world’s longest concrete cable-stayed bridge. It is the third bridge over the recently expanded Panama Canal, and is designed to meet the needs of post-Panamax shipping – accommodating vessels that exceed the dimensions allowed at the time of the canal’s original design and construction. The new crossing has a clearance of 82 yards (75 m) to allow the largest container ships in the world to navigate beneath, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans through this man-made 48-mile (77-km) waterway. The need to accommodate post-Panamax ships has also been recognized far away from Panama, e.g. as demonstrated in the recent project to raise the deck level of New York’s Bayonne Bridge, for which mageba supplied the required bearings and expansion joints.

For the Atlantic Bridge too, mageba was contracted to supply both bearings (as described in a previous newsletter) and expansion joints. The TENSA®MODULAR expansion joints were designed with up to 20 movement gaps each, for longitudinal movements of up to 63 inches (1600 mm), making them the biggest mageba modular joints in the Americas. The joints were equipped with specially designed cover plates at their ends, and the size of the joints presented a particular challenge for transport, which was carried out by means of flat rack for speed and reliability. With all expansion joints successfully installed in time for the bridge’s opening, this critical structure connecting America’s great northern and southern landmasses is ready to accommodate traffic, safely and reliably, for many years to come.

Bridge owner: Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (ACP)
Bridge designer: CCCC (HPDI and Louis Berger Group)
Bridge contractor: VINCI Construction

Design representation of a 3-gap TENSA®MODULAR joint as designed for the Queensboro Bridge

The bridge has been designed to accommodate post-Panamax shipping, avoiding the need for ships to navigate around the southern tip of South America

The bridge has the longest span for any cable-stayed concrete structure in the world

Transport of a TENSA®MODULAR joint by flat rack to site in Panama

The enormous TENSA®MODULAR expansion joints, one of which is shown here during lifting on site, have up to 20 gaps each

A TENSA®MODULAR joint being placed on site in preparation for concreting

The lower part of a complex uplift bearing for the Atlantic Bridge, during assembly in a mageba factory

With about 12 % of all US-bound international container ships passing under the Bayonne Bridge in New York / New Jersey, the expansion of the Panama Canal prompted a project to raise the bridge deck within the original steel arch – a project for which mageba also supplied both the bearings and the expansion joints