Problems with the concrete mix and reinforcing steel design were in large part responsible for the two-year delay in the construction of the third set of locks of the Panama Canal. “The marine concrete that is in contact with salt water has to hold up for a hundred years,” explains Jan Kop, project coordinator for the design-build consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC). “So you have to prevent the penetration of salt water that will corrode the rebar. However, our marine concrete at first didn’t pass ACP’s interpretation of the C1202 test after 90 days of curing. It needed more time to cure to reach the desired impermeability, but ACP insisted it should be achieved after 90 days, which is not an applicable criterion in these circumstances. The inflexibility of ACP caused considerable delays.” Now open for business, the Canal is one of the greatest engineering and construction achievements this century.

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