Excerpt from The Type of the Panama Canal
Relating to the kind of canal to be constructed the law provides: The President shall then, through the Isthmian Canal Commission cause to be excavated, constructed and completed, utilizing to that end, as far as practicable, the work heretofore done by the New Panama Canal Company, of France, and its predecessor company, a ship canal from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Such canal shall be of sufficient capacity and depth as shall afford convenient passage for vessels of the largest tonnage and greatest draft now in use, and such as may reasonably be anticipated, and shall be supplied with all necessary locks and other appliances to meet the necessities of vessels passing through the same from ocean to ocean.
It was recognized by the commission of 1904 that under the Spooner act as quoted, a departure, to some extent at least, from the project which the earlier commission had outlined as a basis for comparative cost estimates was authorized and proper. It was incumbent upon the commission to determine whether a canal with summit level at 80 or 60 or 30 feet would not, all things considered, be better than the canal with summit level at 85 feet. It was therefore necessary to regard the entire question of type of canal an open one to be solved by the selection of that type and that summit elevation which would best fulfill all requirements. It was realized that this question required careful con sideration from every standpoint, particularly in relation to its service ability, to time required for construction, to first cost and to the cost of operation and maintenance with due regard to the importance of early completion, and reliability of service after completion.
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