Panama and a consortium of European construction firms, which have been locked in a bitter dispute over cost overruns on a multibillion-dollar project to expand the Panama Canal, say they have reached a preliminary deal to end the spat and ensure final completion of the work. A final agreement still needs to be signed but both sides said this could happen as early as this weekend. Panama says the deal will allow for the expansion of the canal, which stretches 50 miles through the Central American isthmus between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, to still be completed by the end of 2015. The $5.2 billion construction project on the 100-year-old waterway began in 2007, an effort to widen and deepen the canal so larger ships could fit through. When finished, Panama stands to greatly increase its more than $1 billion in annual revenue from toll fees. The U.S., which […]