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Unlit signs a concern in N. Charleroi

| Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:16 a.m.

North Charleroi is seeking answers to why signs on the John K. Tener Bridge and nearby roadway have become even darker in recent weeks.

Council in February expressed concern that directional signs for motorists traveling along state Route 88 toward the bridge were still not illuminated eight months after the newly constructed bridge opened. The lights have been out since the old span was shut down in February 2009.

Three weeks ago, additional lights went out on the bridge itself, including another directional sign, Mayor Stephen Hega said at Monday's council meeting.

The directional signs at the North Charleroi end of the bridge are designed to guide motorists into either a turning lane across the bridge or to travel farther along Route 88. An additional four lights and another directional sign have gone out along the bridge span, ending at the sign that reads “Welcome to North Charleroi Borough.”

Lights on the Westmoreland County side of the bridge are functional. A frustrated Hega called the lack of lighting “a serious safety issue”.

“An accident could occur, and the first thing they're going to say is it was dark and they're going to start pointing fingers,” Hega said after the meeting. “We want people to know we're trying to correct the problem and nobody seems to be worried about it.”

Hega said borough officials have been in continuous contact with West Penn Power, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and even Joseph B. Fay Co., the general contractor that completed the new bridge last June.

“I think everyone is just passing it back and forth to each other saying, ‘it's not our issue' and ‘we'll look into it,' and it never happens,” Hega said. “Ultimately, it's a power issue. The power is out to these lights. I don't know who's responsible, but you would think the power company would have something to do with it, unless Faye did something during the construction.”

Hega said he will again contact a West Penn Power representative Tuesday morning.

“I talked to (a woman) at West Penn Power and she told me she was going to issue a business order for work detail and to get back with her in three days if nothing happened, and nothing's happened,” Hega said.

Hega also warned residents the borough is cracking down on high grass and untagged vehicles.

Hega declared that by mid-May, all residents who do not have their grass cut to a maximum height of 4 inches will be cited, per borough ordinance. In addition, any vehicles that do not have both a valid license plate and registration will be tagged.

Hega said the borough issued nine such vehicle citations in 2013 with Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins of Charleroi. The borough has already tagged six vehicles this year.

“We are going to be very aggressive with this,” Hega said.

Councilman Fred Schwalb said installation of a main gas line along borough roads has continued without incident. Four catch basins will need to be replaced as a part of that project, Schwalb said.

In other action, council:

• Purchased a brush mower for $1,400 and a new lawn mower at a price not to exceed $200.

• Agreed to buy a picnic table and children's swing for the community park for a cost not to exceed $1,000.

• Agreed to accept applications and advertise for one seasonal position with the street department at a pay rate to be determined. Anyone interested can arrange to pick up an employment application by calling the borough office at 724-483-8431.

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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