A Texas department is preparing to help the state capitalize on an economic opportunity.

The Texas Department of Transportation is creating a Panama Canal Stakeholder Working Group, comprised of a variety of entities with an interest in the expansion of the canal, and is seeking input from them on promoting port activities in state transportation planning.

A 2011 Cambridge Systematics study concluded that the Panama Canal Expansion will allow demand for import and export shipments via Western U.S. Coast ports to remain substantial for many years to come, but the expansion will cause physical and other limited constraints on those ports.

The constraints on ports along the West Coast could result in more cargo being shipped through Texas Ports.

The group plans to produce a report by the end of 2012 assessing the state’s readiness to maximize any opportunities which might be created by the expansion of the Panama Canal.

“Preparing the state’s infrastructure for such an expansion, in terms of sea and land-based infrastructure, is crucial to accommodating this increased freight traffic,” said State Representative Larry Phillips.