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Intense cold might delay Tener Bridge opening

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 12:47 a.m.
The Charleroi Monessen Tener Bridge. Jim Ference | Valley Independent
Waynesburg University''s new president Doug Lee of Charleroi. Jim Ference | Valley Independent

Motorists hoping to drive across a new bridge spanning the Monongahela River between Charleroi and Monessen this year may want to read the Farmer's Almanac or search for woolly caterpillars.

Whether the span to replace the former Charleroi-Monessen Bridge reopens by year's end will depend upon how early winter hits – and how hard.

The span will be called the John K. Tener Memorial Bridge.

“They're trying to get done by the end of year, but so many things have to line up right,” PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said.

Officials for the contractor and PennDOT are looking into potential methods to heat the bridge deck so placement of deck and parapets can continue into the cold weather, Petersen said.

She said planning is needed because it appears some heating of concrete will be necessary because deck placement will occur later this year.

Petersen said that in the event of extreme cold temperatures, deck placement will cease “in order to ensure that a high quality concrete and deck is achieved.”

“We cannot take a chance on building a bridge that will have a reduced lifespan in order to open early,” Petersen said. “If that is the case, the opening date will have to be pushed until April of 2013.”

Regardless of when the bridge is open to traffic, painting work will continue into the summer, Petersen said.

Petersen added that the bridge work is a few weeks behind because of problems with steel erection earlier this year. She did not know what the problems entailed. Steel is still being installed for the bridge deck.

The Charleroi-Monessen Bridge closed Feb. 19, 2009, after an inspection revealed deterioration in the first 200-foot span closest to Monessen.

Built in 1906, the bridge was rehabilitated shortly after World War II and again in 1986.

The National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to take into account the effects federally funded activities and programs have on significant historic properties. “Significant historic properties” are those included in, or eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places.

The Charleroi-Monessen Bridge is listed on the register because of its design as a Pennsylvania Petit truss bridge, a variant of truss bridges built in the U.S. from the 1870s into the mid-20th century.

The Charleroi Area Historical Society touted the bridge's historic significance because it was built by the Mercantile Bridge Co., of which John K. Tener was president.

Tener eventually became governor of Pennsylvania.

State officials claimed the bridge project was delayed about nine months while a letter of memorandum of agreement for the proposal to repair or replace the Charleroi-Monessen span was developed among historic officials and PennDOT.

Construction on the $26.1 million bridge project began in late 2010.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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