Eagan says it’s ready for the traffic expected for the grand opening of the metro area’s newest outlet mall Thursday through Sunday.

Signs will guide shoppers into and out of Twin Cities Premium Outlets at the junction of Cedar Avenue and Hwy. 13. Auxiliary parking lots will be open next to the 400,000-square-foot retail space.

Traffic signals have been rejiggered to lengthen the time allowed for left turns. Police will be on the ready to direct traffic if necessary. Free rides on mass transit will be offered to encourage shoppers to leave their cars at home or at park and ride lots.

“We are staffed up and ready to go,” said Tom Garrison, Eagan’s communications director. “It’s going to be busy. People need to plan ahead, just like when they go to the State Fair.”

A crush of traffic is expected just after rush hour Thursday morning, in time for the ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m. and the stores’ opening at 10, said Peter Lund, general manager of Simon Property Group, which operates the mall.

Free rides

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority will offer free rides to and from the Cedar Grove Transit Station across the street. Metro Transit is offering free rides on the Red Line, the bus rapid transit line from the Mall of America to Apple Valley. It too, stops at Cedar Grove. A coupon from MVTA (www.mvta.com) is necessary to get a free ride.

If you drive

Digital signs along Hwy. 13 and Cedar Avenue will direct motorists to the least-congested exits and available parking. Russ Matthys, Eagan’s public works director, said the city spent $35,000 to re-time traffic lights at Hwy. 13 and Silver Bell Road, Silver Bell and Cedar Grove Pkwy. and at Diffley and Nicols Rds. Garrison said Cedar Avenue drivers may have more luck using the Diffley Road exit rather than Hwy. 13, then heading north on Nicols Road to access the mall.

Overflow parking

Motorists will be directed to a city-owned parking garage with 1,530 spaces across from the mall if the shopping complex’s 800 spots fill up.

Matthys said the city put up no-parking signs in nearby neighborhoods.

What about workers?

Simon will provide shuttles from off-site parking lots for employees to help ease the crunch.

“If 60 percent of employees do that, problem solved,” Garrison said. “We think it’s a decent plan.”