Bridge between Monessen, North Charleroi reopens after 4-year rehab
After a $26.1 million overhaul, the bridge spanning the Monongahela River between Monessen and North Charleroi opened to traffic on Saturday for the first time in nearly 41⁄2 years.
“It's beautiful,” said Irene Lesko, 86, of Jacobs Creek, who grew up in a North Charleroi neighborhood under the bridge. She said she was unsure she would live to see the day when the bridge reopened.
“I never thought that they would make it this beautiful.”
The bridge, once called the Charleroi-Monessen Bridge, is the John K. Tener Memorial Bridge, named for the former Charleroi businessman who served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1911 to 1915.
About a dozen descendants of Tener attended the dedication ceremony.
“What he did as governor was to build bridges among people in the communities,” said John E. Tener of Boston, a great-great-nephew who is his namesake.
“It is only fitting that you build a bridge and name it for him because he was a bridge builder metaphorically.”
Built in 1907, the bridge was rehabilitated shortly after World War II and again in 1986. It closed on Feb. 19, 2009, when an inspection revealed deterioration in the first 200-foot span closest to Monessen.
Hundreds crowded onto the bridge for the dedication. Monessen officials, lead by Mayor Mary Jo Smith, crossed it from the Monessen side. North Charleroi leaders, including Mayor Lee Hall, crossed from their side. They met in the middle for the ceremony.
Retired state Sen. J. Stout said the bridge unites the communities across the “life-giving Monongahela River.”
As part of the celebration, Robecca Novotne of Monessen and Michael Castner of North Charleroi got married on the bridge.
“As this bridge unites two communities, this (wedding) ceremony joins two lives together.” Hall noted.
Before the ceremony at the veterans memorial near the North Charleroi side of the span, officials unveiled a historic marker that honors North Charleroi and the plaque from the original bridge, now embedded in stone from a pillar of the former span.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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