Deputies preparing for Tanger Outlet traffic tangles

Posted at 6:49 PM, Jul 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-02 18:49:57-04

BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- As shoppers anticipate the grand opening of the Tanger Outlets in Byron Township later this summer, law enforcement officials are busy preparing for the crowds. When the new the outlet center opens, officials expect heavy traffic, but the Kent County Sheriff's department says they have a plan.

"We're going to be heavily assisting during the initial days of the opening, because there's a lot of excitement about the new mall, and we expect a lot of traffic to the area," said Kent County Undersheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young.

As for how much traffic 84th Street could see, those numbers have yet to be determined.

"It really depends on how many citizens decide this is the weekend they're going to go shopping at the Tanger Outlet mall," Lajoye-Young said.

Those shoppers are expected to create a lot of extra traffic off of exit 74 on US-131, which Byron Township Clerk Joel Hondorp knew the township couldn't avoid.

"That was one of our earliest concerns: traffic and how everything was going to work," Hondorp said.

To accommodate congestion, new traffic lights were installed. In addition, deputies plan to direct traffic on 84th Street and at different driveways to the mall.

"We're going to try and control the traffic, keep it moving, so it moves in and out of that area smoothly," Lajoye-Young said.

Lajoye-Young added that the public could see up to five deputies directing traffic at any one time to help ease traffic flow both on and off exit 74.

Her advice is to be alert, pay attention, and be ready to stop where you haven't stopped in the past.

The heaviest congestion is expected the opening weekend of July 31, but if the traffic tie-ups continue, Hondorp says there is also a plan to deal with it. "If it becomes a long-term concern or, because of Tanger, other things start coming to that area, we might have to look at how that ramp is configured. If they have to add a third lane in the future, those are things MDOT [The Michigan Department of Transportation] will have to look at."

MDOT tells FOX 17 that they don't plan to modify the interstate but will adjust the traffic signal timing if necessary.

"I know we're all very excited, but let the deputies do their job, and we'll get everybody in there to enjoy the new site," Hondorp said.

The Tanger Outlet will open at 10 a.m. July 31 and will have 75 brands and designer outlets.