Shopping alert: I-64 traffic may be heavy Thursday as Simpsonville outlet mall opens

jpatton1@herald-leader.comJuly 28, 2014 

— If you don't love shopping, you might want to avoid driving Interstate 64 on Thursday.

With the opening of Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass in Simpsonville, Kentucky State Police, Simpsonville police and the state Department of Transportation are warning travelers to expect a high volume of traffic between Louisville and Frankfort.

To deal with the influx of shoppers, there will be signs along I-64 advising lane use in both directions near Exit 28. Heavy traffic also is expected on U.S. 60 and Buck Creed Road in Shelby County, state police said.

This 374,300-square-foot property, owned by Horizon Group Properties, is planned to have more than 110 stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth, Polo Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Gucci, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, Charlotte Russe, Old Navy, Brooks Brothers, The North Face, Eddie Bauer, Kate Spade, Loft Outlet, Under Armour and many more.

Several retailers will have special opening-day deals, said Gina Slechta, vice president of marketing for Horizon. For instance, Crabtree & Evelyn is offering a free 25-gram tube of Avocado, Olive & Basil hand cream to the first 100 customers.

The deals are expected to fuel excitement over the new mall. Slechta said mall officials expected 10,000 to 12,000 shoppers over the course of the day, although some estimates put opening-day traffic at as many as 40,000 people. Additional parking will be available across the street from the mall.

"It will be like going to a sporting event," Slechta said. "It will be heavy but very manageable."

Simpsonville police are expected to release a traffic plan this week.

The ribbon-cutting for the mall will be at 10 a.m., with a performance by the Kentucky Opera and a children's choir from Simpsonville. There will be a bluegrass music concert Thursday night. Mall hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. To help manage the traffic, shuttles from off-site parking will pick up shoppers and bring them to the mall, Slechta said.

There might be increased traffic Wednesday evening, too, for an opening night VIP preview from 6 to 9 p.m. For $50, guests may be the first to shop in the mall and participate in silent auctions and other festivities. Proceeds will benefit the James Brown Cancer Center. Tickets for Wednesday's preview are available at Shoppingforacure.org.

The $80 million development will employ 1,500 people during the regular season.

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

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