TRENTON — Some 42,000 vehicles have to go someplace else Monday as the Delaware River Turnpike Connector Bridge stays closed.

The trucks and cars that use the bridge connecting the New Jersey Turnpike and the Pennsylvania Turnpike are expected to divert to other crossings to begin the week, as the indefinite closure impacts its first morning commute.

New Jersey Turnpike Authority Executive Director Joseph W. Mrozek expects the bridge to remain closed for several weeks. He said he's sympathetic to the inconvenience to commuters and truckers.

"We will not be able to reopen it until we are absolutely certain it is safe," Mrozek said. "All of the agencies and contractors involved will be working urgently to make that happen as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we have to ask the public for their patience.”

The recommended detour to get to the PA Turnpike (I-276) is:

Exit 7A of the NJ Turnpike, for I-195 in Robbinsville;
I-195 to I-295 North, which becomes I-95 South;
then, U.S. Route 1 to its interchange with I-276 in Bensalem.

Normally, that encompasses a 45-minute drive. The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, however, said its crossings had increased volume over the weekend.

In a statement, the DRJTBC "urges its Bucks/Mercer bridge users to allow extra time to reach their destinations, and to exercise patience and caution, in deference to the regional travel emergency arising from the closure of the bridge linking the two state turnpikes."

Other DRJTBC crossings include the Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge on Route 1, the Lower Trenton "Trenton Makes" bridge, the Calhoun Street Bridge and the Washington Crossing Bridge.

The one piece of good news for commuters is that the Turnpike Extension at Exit 6 will be accessible eastbound between Route 130 and the north/south NJ Turnpike. Westbound will remain completely closed.

The bridge was abruptly closed on Friday afternoon to all traffic, when a large fracture was discovered in a steel truss underneath a deck on the Pennsylvania side during an inspection. Mrozek said engineers and construction crews worked through the weekend to temporarily stabilize the fractured steel component.

The next step in the bridge repairs is the construction of eight towers underneath the Connector Bridge to temporarily support the weight of the bridge. Jacks will be used to lift the bridge into its original structure position. NJ Turnpike spokesman Tom Feeney said it's too early to estimate the cost of the repair, but that will be shared by both the NJ Turnpike Authority and the PA Turnpike Commission.

Sign up for the WPG Talk Radio 104.1 Newsletter

Get South Jersey news and information e-mailed to you every week.