Traffic was backed up yesterday and for most of the three-day holiday weekend on I-580 as shoppers tried to reach and exit from Paragon Outlets, an outlet mall that opened Thursday with the only access off El Charro Road and Jack London Boulevard from Livermore.
It could be the same tonight as commuters heading eastbound on the freeway to their homes east of El Charro encounter shopping center traffic.
Other stores in the area, including Target across from the outlet mall and Costco, farther east on I-580, have found their stores also affected by the traffic snarls on I-580, the only freeway that also serves them, delaying or discouraging their own customers from reaching their stores.
Weels, the local bus company, sent out notices to Pleasanton schools Thursday that its buses could be late because of delays its drivers were having in leaving the Wheels barn just off Isabel Avenue. There's been no update by Wheels as to how continued traffic problems will affect service when schools re-open today.
Yesterday, drivers reported delays approaching El Charro Road, the exit that accesses the new outlet mall. At times, usually moderate holiday traffic was backed up on both the westbound amd eastbound 580 lanes.
Delays were expected, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Creel, but not the numbers that have actually turned out.
"It's a matter of more people showing up than the capacity of the roadways," Creel said. "There was larger demand at that exit than it was capable of handling."
Creel said the outlet owners are working with local police, CalTrans and other agencies in anticipation of backups, including placing electronic signs on I-580 more than a week ago.
He said CHP and Livermore police are working to ease traffic through the area.
The 130-store mall kicked off a four-day grand opening Thursday, featuring brands that include Armani, Burberry, Coach, Prada and Kate Spade.
The grand opening sales ended yuesterday, which could reduce customer traffic.
The $150 million, 543,000-square-foot center is the first outlet mall to open in California in 11 years and one of only five opening in the U.S. this year. It sits on former farmland where Livermore adjoins Pleasanton and Dublin.