Japan proposes tunnel under Panama Canal

20 July 2021

Panama’s government is said to be mulling over a Japanese proposal for a 5.3km tunnel that will pass under the Panama Canal as part of the planned US$2.5bn metro Line No 3.

According to BN Americas, Japan, which is the canal’s second largest user, is keen to invest in Panama, particularly in the tunnel. Experts from the two countries will analyse the proposals and potentially seek public-private partners to undertake the project. A previous administration had planned for the metro line to be carried by a fourth bridge over the canal but that was put on hold.

Construction of the tunnel, which will be around 64m below sea level, is scheduled to start in 2023, with the design tender expected to be awarded imminently. The contract for the 25km metro line (which does not include the tunnel) was awarded in November 2019 to South Korean consortium HPH Joint Venture, comprising Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Posco.

When completed, Line No 3 will be a 25km-long monorail line in the west of Panama City with only one of the planned 14 stations being underground. Construction began in April 2021.