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Festivities to mark opening of new Charleroi-Monessen bridge

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 1:51 a.m.

A celebration more than four years in the making will take place Saturday, beginning on the North Charleroi side of the new John K. Tener Memorial Bridge.

The span over the Monongahela River will replace the former Charleroi-Monessen Bridge, which was closed Feb. 19, 2009, after an inspection revealed structural problems.

The original structure was built in 1906 as a toll bridge by the Mercantile Bridge Co., of which Tener was president. Tener eventually became governor of Pennsylvania.

Members of Tener's family are expected to attend the Saturday ceremonies, which will begin 11 a.m.

A ribbon-cutting will take place in the middle of the bridge. Former state Sen. J. Barry Stout of Bentleyville is expected to be the keynote speaker and cut the ribbon. Other state lawmakers may also speak.

At noon, festivities marking the event will begin in the North Charleroi Professional Plaza. Dallas Marks, a local country music band, will perform, and refreshments will be served.

Souvenir cups and T-shirts will be available for purchase.

Parking will be available on the North Charleroi side of the bridge, at the professional plaza and the Lock Four Fire Company hall. Shuttle buses will transport members of the public to the bridge for the ceremony.

Firefighters will reroute traffic around the bridge on both sides of the span. Access to the bridge will only be available on the North Charleroi side of the bridge before it opens to traffic.

The public is invited to attend.

The former bridge was rehabilitated shortly after World War II and again in 1986.

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

The Charleroi Area Historical Society touted the bridge's historic significance because of its relationship to Tener, a Charleroi banker who also served as president of baseball's National League.

State officials, including Stout, claimed the bridge project was delayed about nine months while a letter of memorandum of agreement for the proposal to repair or replace the span was developed among officials from history-based groups and PennDOT.

In the aftermath of that memorandum, a bill was passed in the state Legislature to rename the new span in Tener's honor.

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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