Panama - Red White & Blue

It's been insightful being so close to the construction of a Mega Project with no obligation on my part for the quality of the end product or its cost. My wife is a consultant to the contractor so I get to tag along as her inquisitive spouse whenever I am in Panama. I'm usually on site whenever I'm in Panama. Nice job if you love to build things and decorate your office with scale models of heavy equipment.

But I'm a worrier and this one would have tipped me over the edge.

The third set of locks at the Panama Canal allowing Post Panamax ships to traverse the Panama isthmus is more than half completed with mega cost overruns and schedule delays. But the contractor, Grupo Unidos, the Belgian/Italian/Spanish consortium, is simply following in the steps of the US government. Tropical rain forest construction is fraught with uncertainty just like most construction but in a much bigger way. Mud slides, torrential rain, unstable soils ... you get the picture.

David McCollough wrote a wonderful historical novel detailing the original construction of the canal over 100 years ago in which he sets forth in very readable prose the myriad problems that at every turn could have ended the project but didn't because of American ingenuity and problem solving skills. The end result was a game changer on the world stage for American muscle.

Lessons to take home? Use history as a guide and work with professionals who will problem solve and persevere because the hallmark of a successful contractor is the skill and dedication of its team and the experience and dedication brought to each job and each problem that is encountered.