JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With big plans in the works for a new IKEA store comes big concerns for people who travel in the area. Thursday night, city and state leaders, along with members of the public, gathered for a meeting to discuss the extra traffic once the store is built.
With a packed house at the meeting many people voiced not only their concern about congestion along Interstate 295, which IKEA representatives did admit most of the traffic would come from, but for others, there were safety concerns as well.
With already high volumes of traffic in the area of Gate Parkway and I-295 on a typical weekday, many are concerned about adding a new IKEA store.
At the meeting held at the University of North Florida, residents, like Lisa Bolling, expressed fears that if the new store creates backups on I-295, people will instead get off at Baymeadows Road and then come down Point Meadows Road where Twin Lakes Elementary and Twin Lakes Middle School are located, creating an added danger for kids.
"There's no traffic light for either of the schools. People have to come in and out of the school and turn both ways on Point Meadows. That's my main concern. They're acting like everyone is going to stay on I-295," Bolling said.
Officials with IKEA, the Florida Department of Transportation and several others addressed those concerns.
IKEA representatives said the store will be big enough for about 1,200 parking spots, and with peak shopping time on the weekend, along with the way their hours are arranged, those times will not coincide with rush hour traffic.
"We know how the Town Center gets just on a regular day, not just on the weekends. Getting on and off Butler Boulevard there, so I think there's going to be plenty of people there every day of the week," Bolling said.
Officials supporting IKEA have also said they're coordinating with the Jacksonville Transit Authority to add a transit route in front of IKEA. In addition to that, they're talking about adding a bus stop.
Construction could begin as early as next summer, and the store opening is planned for the fall of 2017.