• By Scott Beveridge
    Staff writer
    sbeveridge@observer-reporter.com
June 19, 2012
Work proceeds on a pier in the Monongahela River to support a new Charleroi-Monessen Bridge, whose opening is behind schedule. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

NORTH CHARLEROI – A winter with steady minor flooding on the Monongahela River and other obstacles have caused construction delays on the new $26 million Charleroi-Monessen Bridge.

The issues have prompted the state Department of Transportation to re-evaluate the construction schedule to push back the bridge’s opening from November to Christmas or even later, said Bill Kovach, PennDOT’s assistant district executive for construction.

“If we don’t make it we’re looking at mid- to late April,” Kovach said Tuesday.

Right out of the gate, PennDOT experienced problems with having the utilities removed from the former, century-old bridge at the site, issues that delayed its May 2011 implosion, he said.

Then there were unexpected survey issues to work out and other delays in reaching an agreement with CSX on demolishing the old bridge sections over railroad tracks in Monessen, Kovach said.

The rising river also kept flooding a cofferdam the contractor, Joseph B. Fay Co. of Tarentum, is using to form a new pier on the North Charleroi side of the Mon.

PennDOT abruptly closed the bridge in February 2009 because of structural deterioration. The old portions of the bridge were 105 years old at the time. New approaches from Routes 906 and 88, built in the 1980s, will be incorporated into the new span.

However, PennDOT since has determined that one of the newer piers has deteriorated and needs to be replaced at an additional cost of $150,000, Kovach said.

He said PennDOT and Joseph B. Faye are working on a new construction schedule to get caught up.

“Things are going pretty well now,” he added.

If the bridge opens before the end of the year, the contractor will still be working under the deck into next year on such things as painting, he said.

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