The new Panama Canal crossing was started in early 2002. The bridge contracts allowed for just over 2 years to complete the structure, which was opened as part of Panama's centennial. Thus, the name Centennial Bridge. The bridge was finished August 15, 2004, but the highways leading to the bridge were not finished until a year later. Traffic started using the bridge on September 2, 2005.
The bridge design has two main towers. The roadway consists of 2 parallel bridge decks connected by steel. The cable system connects to the steel between the two roadways. The towers are set on dry land, resulting in the long main span. The Panama Canal is being enlarged, so the width will someday be needed. The bridge is also unusually high above the water. As it turns out, the canal is in a deep cut, so the roadway is nearly level as it crosses the canal. The height is needed due to a mobile rescue crane that sails the canal waters, and the bridge needed to be tall enough to allow this giant crane to pass under.