IKEA excites neighboring restaurants, frustrates commuters

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – IKEA’s impending arrival has some businesses smiling and drivers fuming.

Many people were excited to hear the popular furniture store will open in Fishers at 116th Street near I-69 in the fall of 2017. But people who commute in that area couldn’t help but be worried about the traffic issues it might cause.

Cruising down 116th Street, it’s hard to miss the restaurants, shops and new developments lining the road, such as Brixx Wood Fire Pizza. It opened earlier this year, and management couldn’t be happier to hear about their neighbor moving in nearby, IKEA.

“When I lived out in Phoenix there was an Ikea by us and just driving by [the] parking lot was always busy. Area around that place, that IKEA was always busy, too,” said bar manager Jeremy Lemon.

“I think it did help out local restaurants and people in the immediate area there,” Lemon added.

But all that new business has to come from somewhere, and much of it will travel along I-69. Around 4 p.m., the northbound exit ramp to 116th Street was smooth sailing. Fast forward an hour and half and the pace slows to a crawl with the line of cars stretching as far as the eye can see.

“I’ve been probably sitting here for 15 minutes just moving up,” said driver Nicholas Blake as he was waiting along the ramp. He said he lives in Indy but commutes to Fishers for work in the evening. “You just got to leave extra early to get to work on time.”

Several commuters we talked with hated taking the ramp during that time of day. Lucky for them, IKEA might not add to their pain.

“Statistically, [IKEA’s] slowest time is between 4 and 6 p.m., so that’s your commute back into Fishers for most residents,” said Mayor Scott Fadness. “And then they do 50 percent of their business on the weekends.

Mayor Fadness also emphasized how 116th street will be expanded before the stores opens. The new interchange at 106th Street will also be ready in time.

“The 106th ramp I think will help in congestion a lot. I’ve heard some different things about it like it might only be for residential traffic and not commercial traffic,” said driver Elaine Farhood. “But I like the idea of IKEA. I’ve never been to one before but heard great things about it.”

With regards to the morning commute, Mayor Fadness said drivers will have even less to worry about. IKEA doesn’t open its doors until 10 a.m.

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