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PennDOT: Tener bridge open June 29

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 1:26 a.m.

Monessen Mayor Mary Jo Smith has big plans to celebrate her birthday on June 29.

That's when the John K. Tener Memorial Bridge connecting Monessen with North Charleroi is scheduled to open, according to Valerie Petersen, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

“I want a giant chocolate cake out in the middle of the bridge,” Smith joked.

“I'm excited to tie our communities back together, and we can be back to normal again. I'm sure North Charleroi and Charleroi have some plans, so I do want to get in touch and have a joint celebration.”

The original estimated completion date was December 2012, but that was pushed back twice because of weather, demolition delays and the unanticipated replacement of two support piers.

There were also problems with steel delivery and assembly.

Although he had hoped the bridge would open sooner, Charleroi borough manager Donn Henderson is planning to make the bridge opening a big to-do.

“We're going to work with PennDOT to have some sort of opening ceremony and coincide it with our July 3 Community Day,” Henderson said.

While the bridge is scheduled for structural completion by June 29, Petersen said additional work will take place afterward. Some of it, such as line painting, might reduce traffic to a single lane.

Henderson said that alone is reason to celebrate.

“We have a little growth spurt going in town, so we'll see if that can't boost it as well as shorten up some commutes,” Henderson said.

“I think for the businesses' sake, not only in Charleroi, but Monessen, it's a pretty critical connection that can't come soon enough.”

The Charleroi-Monessen Bridge was closed in February 2009 because of structural problems and was later demolished. It was more than a century old at the time.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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