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Working overtime on bridge

| Saturday, June 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Workers from the Joseph B. Fay Company,General  Contracters from Pittsburgh, gather on the new deck of the John K. Tener bridge.  On Friday,June 7,2013.
Jim Ference | The Valley Indpendent
Workers from the Joseph B. Fay Company,General Contracters from Pittsburgh, gather on the new deck of the John K. Tener bridge. On Friday,June 7,2013.

PennDOT is committed to reopening the former Charleroi-Monessen Bridge by the end of the month.

To meet that June 29 deadline, crews are working overtime.

“We have three good weeks of work and we have three weeks to complete that work,” said PennDOT District 12 spokesperson Valerie Petersen said. “They are working towards that goal.”

On that date, a ribbon-cutting will be the first of several celebratory events marking the opening of the span.

The bridge crossing the Monongahela River between Charleroi and Monessen has been renamed the John K. Tener Bridge.

Petersen said construction crews are working double shifts to complete the work in time for the ribbon-cutting. The general contractor for the $26.1 million project is Joseph B. Fay Co.

Crews are currently working on the deck and approaches. Petersen was unsure of the time frame for completion of the deck work.

Even when the bridge reopens to traffic, some work could remain. This could include some signing, line painting and approach work, she said.

The span was closed Feb. 19, 2009, after a routine inspection revealed deterioration of a vertical panel that supports the middle of the bridge. That deterioration was found in the first panel closest to the Monessen side of the span.

Built in 1906, the bridge was rehabilitated shortly after World War II and again in 1986.

The National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to take into account the effects their federally funded activities and programs have on significant historic properties.

“Significant historic properties” are those included in, or eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places.

The Charleroi-Monessen Bridge is listed on the register 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 has touted the bridge's historic significance because it was built by the Mercantile Bridge Co., of which Tener was president.

Tener eventually became governor of Pennsylvania.

State officials, including then-state Sen. J. Barry Stout, D-Bentleyville, 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 historic officials and PennDOT.

Construction on the bridge began in late 2010.

The deck of the old bridge was imploded in July 2011 to make room for the new span.

North Charleroi and Monessen officials are jointly planning a celebration to mark the opening of the bridge.

The ribbon cutting will take place in the middle of the bridge. Stout is being asked to attend and lead the procession of vehicles to the ribbon-cutting.

Stout and state Rep. R. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, are expected to be the guest speakers.

A wedding is also being planned on the bridge that day, and organizers are seeking residents of the two communities over age 90 to attend as guests.

Invitations are being sent to the descendants of Tener to attend.

The committee is working on a commemorative book as well as souvenir cups and T-shirts.

Invitations were being sent out to elected officials.

Musical entertainment is being planned in both towns.

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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