Interoceanic Canal of Colombia The only route to a sea level canal between the two oceans Introduction: Historical summary. 500 years ago, on September 25, 1513, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa discovered the South Sea. Since that time there has been interest in finding a route to connect the two oceans. According to Father Ramirez, the first to suggest a connection between the Gulf of San Miguel and the Atrato river, was "a certain Saavedra" contemporary of Balboa. [JE Ramirez, 1967] King Charles V gave orders to the new Governor Pedrarias Davila (1514) to discover the South Sea. [The King did not know what had already been discovered in 1513 by Vasco Nunez de Balboa]. The King says, "To travel from the town of Nuestra Señora Santa María del Darien, to the South Sea, said three or four seats in the more profitable parts it seemed in the Gulf of Urabá, to cross and tread the ground one part to the other, and with less difficulty where people can walk, and in places that are healthier, and have good waters and seats, according to the statement carried: and the seat that is done … in the South Sea, should be on the port that is found to be better and more suitable for selecting the gulf " [Letter from the Catholic King to Pedrarias Dávila, 1514, regarding the means of facilitating communication between the Coast of Darien and South Sea, Simancas Archives, Portal of Spanish Archives, Madrid.] The first channel was the American interoceanic Canal del Cura, named for having been built by Gabriel Arratachaguí, a Catholic priest, mining and merchant by joining the Atrato and San Juan rivers through a ravine Raspadura in 1788. The channel's width is only two meters but served to carry arms and ammunition to Cartagena in the War of Independence of Colombia. In 1827 Robert Stephenson, son of George Stephenson visited Bogota and Simon Bolivar proposed to build the railway of the Isthmus of Panama, for various reasons, but this idea was not carried out. In 1828 Simon Bolivar ordered the governor of Choco Colonel Jose Maria Cancino the construction with pick and shovel of the San Pablo channel, 46 km away from the Atrato and San Juan river. The order has not been done, despite the fact that the Military Engineer Battalion # 15 in Las Animas is stationed in the center of the isthmus. This would be a channel for small boats that need a hydraulic lift.
In 1849 President Jose Hilario Lopez signed the contract for the construction of the Panama Railroad with a U.S. company. The line of 77 kilometers was begun in 1850 and was completed five years later. Success was immediate for the large number of travelers from the U.S. East Coast on their way to participate in the California Gold Rush. In 1855 Captain William Kennish, sponsored by Mr. Frederick M Kelly, found the river estuary Paracuchichi to 7 * N on the Pacific coast. He crossed the Serrania de Baudo and proposed the construction of two tunnels, three miles long to reach the Atlantic slope rivers through Nerqua, Truando and Atrato. In 1876 the President of the United States of Colombia Achileo Parra Gomez signed with the representative of the Government of France Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte Wyse the treaty to build the Panama Canal by the French company Canal Interoceanico. The treaty was approved by Congress. The Panama Canal was built between 1870 and 1914. Initially the French company workers had serious health problems from yellow fever and malaria that caused high mortality. The company failed and was taken over by the U.S. government who supported the independence of Panama and the canal was built 100 years ago. Its first centenary will be celebrated in 2014. In 1970 the Committee for the U.S. inter-oceanic canal was formed. They consider Route # 25 as the only to make a sea level canal without locks and recommended the use of nuclear energy to open the Serrania del Baudo, which was rejected. In the 70s The Hudson Institute of New York proposed damming rivers Atrato and San Juan to make two large lakes, generate hydropower and connect the two oceans. The project was rejected by the ecological implications thereof. In 1984 Congress passed law 53 to build the canal in Colombia. One of the stipulations was that "partners or shareholders will only be national or national entities, members of foreign legal entities were not allowed." 28 years later there law has not been decreed. In contrast, the Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega passed Law 800 in July 2012, funding a 30 billion dollar construction firm with China in September and in January 2013 contracted with the Royal Dutch Company for the project. Revenues are estimated to be one billion dollars annually to run the canal. One of the problematic issues is that there is a need to have 28 pairs of locks and it is in volcanic territory with two fault lines that destroyed Managua in 1931 and 1972. The Panama Canal is the source of 70% of the GDP of that country. Currently, the
canal has three locks of 304 m long, 32.3 m wide and 294 m long. Given the increasing size of ships, Panama decided the construction of a fourth set of locks for ships of 427 m long, 55 wide and 18.3 m deep. The enlargement is possibly going to end in 2014 when it will celebrate one hundred years of beginning operations. Studies Since the discovery of the route by William Kennish Atrato-Truando in 1854, there have been a myriad of studies. Two years later Milchner Lt. Nathaniel was sent by the U.S. government to confirm the findings of Kennish. Made on travel in the opposite direction and submitted its report to Congress. (GoogleBooks). In 1949 a joint committee of the U.S. and Colombia, co-directed by Belisario Ruiz Wilches conducted the hydrological studies of the Interoceanic Canal AtratoTruando. In 1964 the Agustin Codazzi Institute made the 1:25,000 topographic channel path. The plates lie in the archives of that institution hoping someone wants to make a blueprint. (Irons # 101-III-ABCD) In 1970 the Inter-Oceanic Canal Commission in collaboration with the U.S. Corps of Engineers in the United States, considered that the route # 25 for a sea level canal without locks was the only one they could recommend. The study published in seven volumes, of which V corresponds to draft # 25, includes geographic, geological, health, ecological, meteorological, and soil studies of the Atrato river. They did not do the studies of the Truando river or of the Serrania del Baudo. The commission recommended the peaceful use of nuclear energy to overcome the barrier of the Baudo range, which was rejected. In 1984 Colombia's Congress passed the Law ordering the construction of the canal, with these limitations. In 1996 the President of the Geographical Society of Colombia Alberto Mendoza Morales published "The Atrato-Truando Canal" book, and a committee was formed in favor of the canal, which approved the project but never realized it. More than two hundred publications about the inter-oceanic canal have been written. The library of The War College retained 17 thesis made by military officers on the canal. At one time it was estimated that the cost of the canal was higher than Colombia's national budget and the opportunity to have a feasible project was discarded. To make the canal, the political will of the people is needed. Then, people must be informed about the project and it needs to have a high priority in order to carry it to completion. Construction of the canal will be a huge pole of development of
regional importance, both nationally and internationally. New technologies for open pit excavation, that would be ideal, of 4.8 km long to connect the Pacific Ocean through the Nerqua valleys, Truando and reach the Atrato rivers. The height of the pass found by Kennish is 288 meters. The section of the Sierra de Baudo is only 26 kilometers, the path Nerqua-Truando is 54 km and 92 for the Atrato river coming to a total of 172 kilometers, a little over 100 miles. The speed of the river current is 2 miles per hour. Excavations need to dig 54 km to change the direction of the Rio Truando-Nerqua from Northwest to Southwest to create a New River. The construction of the port of New Granada in the estuary or Coriche Paracuchichi must be studied. Another work that can start immediately is the dredging of the Tarena, one of the mouths of the Atrato River, closing the others; and the construction of Puerto de Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien. Finally, the river port in Riosucio (Choco) must be done to connect with the rest of the country through an electric railway pass through a tunnel to the East. The construction of a highway from Medellin to Quibdo should be a double lane highway allowing speeds of 100 km an hour. Assumptions Interoceanic Canal of Colombia, via Atrato-Truando We assume we need to build: 1. A channel in the Paracuchichi Estuary go to the Sierra de Baudo, 12 km long, 125 m wide and 25 m deep 2. Cutting off the Serrania open pit 288 m high, 4.8 km long 3. Dig a channel using the riverbeds Truando-Nerqua and to reverse the current directing it from NE to SW for about 54 km long, 125 m wide and 25 deep. 4. Dredge Tarena a mouth of the Atrato and seal the other mouths 5. Make two ports: one on the estuary of Coriche Paracuchichi which might be called New Granada and one in the mouth of the Atrato which could be called Santa Maria Antigua del Darien. A river port in Riosucio (Choco). 6. An electric railway with double track standard gauge to go to Riosucio (Choco) to Pereira to connect to the line tunnel between Ibague and Armenia. 1. Canal of Nueva Granada to the Serrania 12.000 m x 125m x 25 = 37.500.000 m3. 2. Open cut of 4.800 m x 125 in the base x 200 m in the cusp= 70.000.000 3. New River 54.000 m x 125m x 25 m = 340.000.000 Total = $447.000.000 Assuming US $10 x m3 = 4.470.000.000 4. Dragging of Atrato mouth 530.000 Subtotal $ 5.000.000.000 5. Sea Ports: Nueva Granada and Sta Maria Antigua del Darien
$ 20 millions each 6. Fluvial Port Riosucio (Choco) 10 millons 7. Railroad Riosucio (Choco) - Pereira 333 km 8. Interest 6% in 10 years Total
40.000.000 10.000.000 1.332.000.000 370.920.000 $ 6.552.920.000
Assumptions The Canal of Colombia will have a capacity of 46 vessels a day. For 360 days = ~17.000 vessels a year Toll cost per ton is $5. assuming vessels average is 20.000 tons that $10.000 times 17.000.000 per year. Administration cost and overhead 20%= $ 3.400.000 Interest of investment 6% per year 3.709.200 Subtotal $ 7.109.200 Net Income per year $ 9.890.800 Jaime Gomez Gonzalez, MD 148 Newcastle Dr Jupiter, Florida 33458, USA March 13, 2013