Plans for Nicaragua Canal Progress

Would dwarf the Panama Canal

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A plan to build an alternative to the Panama Canal took a step forward Wednesday after Nicaragua officially announced the start of the $40 billion project. The president of the country’s national assembly awarded a Chinese company a 100-year concession to build the canal.

The proposed route will be a higher-capacity alternative to the Panama Canal, which is currently being widened at the cost of 5.3 billion. If all goes according to plan, the new canal will be able to accommodate vessels twice the size of those able to pass through the Panama Canal, Time reports. The Chinese company plans to use funds from across the world to finance the project, which will cut through the water of Lake Nicaragua.

Since the early 19th century, plans have been in the works for a Nicaragua Canal, but the U.S. abandoned the project in the early 1900s after purchasing French interests in the Panama Canal. Recent interest in the project began in 2004 and continued with the Nicaraguan government commissioning a feasibility study in 2012. Environmentalists oppose the damage that may be done to surrounding rivers and jungle.

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