MIDLOTHIAN – The Gerdau Ameristeel steel mills in Midlothian, Texas, and Petersburg, Va., manufactured 17,000 tons of sheet piling for the Panama Canal expansion, a major $5.25 billion project that will double the capacity of the canal, allowing more ships, as well as bigger ships, to traverse it.
By constructing a new set of locks, one lock complex on the Pacific and another on the Atlantic, an additional lane of traffic will be created. The locks will require three new access channels to be excavated and existing ship navigation channels to be extended and deepened.
The materials produced by Gerdau Ameristeel will be used for the excavation of the Pacific Access Channel and the construction of the Borinquen Dam, which is an integral part of the expansion and provides navigational access to the Gaillard Cut, previously the narrowest section of the Panama Canal. The company’s strategic piling partner, the L.B. Foster Company, created a sophisticated logistics plan to ensure the products were delivered on site and on time.
“It is an intriguing project with a lot of history and it is a tremendous honor to be associated with it,” David Maedgen, manager of piling sales at Gerdau Ameristeel, said. “It was truly a group effort with a lot of different components that had to come together exactly the right way to make this venture successful. Time after time, expectations were exceeded and we are proud of the results.”
To minimize project lead time, the Panama Canal Authority purchased materials directly from Gerdau Ameristeel. A total of 10,679 steel sheets were produced for this project.
“We worked closely with the design and production teams to ensure high quality and great efficiency,” Maedgen said. “Everything went flawlessly thanks to a smooth performance from the mill.”
Following the manufacturing stage, the success of the project rested on the shoulders of the L.B. Foster Company. Its piling staff was responsible for transferring the steel from Gerdau Ameristeel’s Midlothian and Petersburg facilities to the job site in Panama. Its logistics plan involved 161 rail cars, four oceangoing vessels, 880 truckloads and customs approval. In addition to supervising each step of the delivery process, L.B. Foster provided technical consulting regarding the storage schematics for the materials.
“LB Foster was pleased to partner with Gerdau Ameristeel on such a meaningful and important project,” said Don Foster, senior vice president of LB Foster’s construction products group. “We have developed a great relationship through the years and our excellent performance on this project demonstrates both our individual strengths and our strengths as a team.”
Gerdau Ameristeel is the second largest mini-mill steel producer in North America, with annual manufacturing capacity of about 10 million metric tons of mill finished steel products. Through its vertically integrated network of mini-mills, scrap recycling facilities and downstream operations, Gerdau Ameristeel serves customers throughout the United States and Canada.