The opening of the Paragon Outlets in Livermore Thursday morning stalled traffic in both directions on Interstate 580. Drivers reported delays of up to 40 minutes approaching El Charro Road, the exit that accesses the new outlet mall.
The backup on Westbound I-580 stretched past Interstate 205,with eastbound delays that began at Hacienda Drive in Pleasanton.
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."
At one point, westbound I-580 was backed up past Vasco Road and eastbound was backed up past the 580-860 interchange, he said.
Creel said the outlet owners worked with local police, CalTrans and other agencies in anticipation of backups, including placing electronic signs on I-580 more than a week ago.
The 130-store mall kicked off a four-day grand opening Thursday morning, featuring brands that include Armani, Burberry, Coach, Prada and Kate Spade.
The Tri-Valley area anticipates a big economic boost from the upscale outlet mall that will create up to 2,000 permanent jobs and hundreds more seasonal ones.
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.