Panama Canal Tolls May Rise

Pending an October 2006 referendum, authorities will raise tolls to fund canal improvements

When Panamanians go to the polls on October 22, 2006, they'll decide whether the Panama Canal will undergo its biggest modification since it was opened in 1914. The project would add a third set of locks on the canal in order to reduce the long lines of ships trying to cross, and would also let larger ships pass through.

Opponents worry the $5.3 billion project will put the country in debt, but officials say they'll pay for the upgrades with loans and toll increases. Public onion polls indicate that the measure is likely to pass.