The Panama Canal Authority reached a key milestone in its expansion program on Tuesday with the installation of the 16th and final gate for the new locks on the Pacific side of the Canal.

The installation process began on the south end of the Canal's Pacific locks, which connect directly to the ocean. The final gate is one of the heaviest and weighs 4,232 tons, or roughly 8.5 million lbs. It measures 57.6m x10m x33 m.

"Today's installation is a key milestone in the Expansion Program and another important step forward for the Canal," said Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. "Once finished, the expanded waterway will provide new possibilities for world maritime trade and further position the Canal as a reliable route to the industry."

Manufactured in Italy, the new gates first arrived in Panama in four staggered shipments starting in August 2013. With the installation of the final gate Tuesday in the Pacific, another important stage begins with the electro-mechanical work, which connects the gates with the other structures in the new locks.

With all 16 gates now installed, the next milestone for the expanded Canal will occur when the lock chambers are flooded.

The installation of all eight gates on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal was completed earlier this month on April 1.

The ACP is the autonomous agency of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. Please refer to the ACP's website: or follow us on Twitter @thepanamacanal.