The Panama Canal Authority announced a key milestone in its expansion program—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 pounds, and measures 57.6 meters wide by 10 meters long and 33 meters high.

"Today's installation is a key milestone in the expansion program and another important step forward for the canal," says Jorge Quijano, administrator. "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 comes the electro-mechanical work, which connects the gates with the other structures in the new locks.

The Panama Canal expansion recorded an overall advance of 87.6% among all its components. With all 16 gates now installed, the next milestone will occur when the lock chambers are flooded.

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

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Panama Canal Expansion Project.