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PennDOT seek answers to John Tener bridge lighting questions

| Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 1:56 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
The lights on these signs pointing the way to Monongahela and Monessen are not working, as is one street light before the John K. Tener Bridge along route 88 in North Charleroi on Tuesday, Febuary 18, 2014.

When the Charleroi-Monessen Bridge closed because of structural problems, a street light as well as lights illuminating a directional traffic signal at the approach to the span went out.

That was five years ago this week.

The bridge has been replaced, but the lights have never come back on. And North Charleroi officials want to know why.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will seek answers to North Charleroi's questions.

The overhead sign is on Route 88 coming out of Charleroi. The green, white-lettered sign reads: “North Route 88 Monongahela” and “To 906 Monessen.” It is located just before a traffic signal at the North Charleroi approach to the new John K. Tener Memorial Bridge.

The street light in question is right behind the directional sign.

The signs are designed to direct motorists to either a right-hand turning lane across the bridge or into the left lane for traffic traveling farther up Route 88.

There are large lights at the bottoms of the signs. They point upward for the purpose of illuminating the signs.

PennDOT maintenance crews and the general contractor for the bridge project, Joseph B. Fay Co., are looking into the lighting problem, said Jay Ofsanik, a highway department safety press officer.

“Obviously, something has gone wrong with those lights, and it has to be determined what it will take to get them fixed,” Ofsanik said.

PennDOT will look at repair costs.

“It could just be a bulb out or something more significant,” Ofsanik said. “They will look at causes and determine what it will take to get them relit. If it can be done as an easy fix, it will be done.”

PennDOT has been in touch with North Charleroi officials since the issue came up at a Monday borough council meeting. PennDOT vowed to keep North Charleroi “abreast of the situation,” Ofsanik said.

The lights going out when the bridge closed was coincidental, Ofsanik said.

The Charleroi-Monessen Bridge closed Feb. 19, 2009, after structural problems were discovered during an inspection. Built in 1907, it was rehabilitated shortly after World War II and again in 1986.

It was built by the Mercantile Bridge Co., of which Tener was president. Tener eventually became governor of Pennsylvania.

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

Work in 2011 involved building footers for the bridge. The deck of the old bridge was imploded in July 2011.

The Tener bridge opened June 29 amidst ceremonies in the middle of the span and along the Washington County side of the span.

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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