Businessman hopes to build Oasis over I-57

By Carly O'Keefe - bio | email

WEST FRANKFORT, IL (KFVS) - A local businessman and entrepreneur announces plans for a major development in West Frankfort. J. Scott Williams hopes to build the Little Egypt Oasis over Interstate-57.

"This project has been a dream of mine for many years," said Williams.

You could think of Williams' economic vision as a "field of dreams" like quest inspired by the mantra: "if you build it, they will come".

Williams has been planning an over-the-interstate oasis to draw in some of the millions of people that travel on I-57 annually; most of whom pass right by West Frankfort.

"If we just get one percent of them, that's 700 people a day, 10 percent, that's 7000 a day. That's a lot of business," said Williams.

Williams already owns the land along the interstate needed to get started on a truck stop, visitor's center, restaurant, retail and conference center. What he needs is some help from the Illinois Department of Transportation to make it happen.

"Phase one is moving the ramps and putting in frontage roads," said Williams.

By moving West Frankfort's current I-57 northbound off ramp and southbound on ramp further south creating another exit, Williams says a frontage road could offer more economic opportunities for local businesses.

"I would like to be one of those small town shops attracting people from around the country," said West Frankfort business owner Gina Cockrum-Melvin.

IDOT Assistant Secretary David Phelps tells Heartland News Williams' dream of an oasis may not just be a mirage, it could really happen. Phelps says the timing for the project is near perfect. IDOT is looking to expand I-57 to three lanes and may be able to move those ramps; which Phelps says would not only help local businesses, but also make for safer driving on the interstate.

"It's just a matter of getting our ducks in a row, and getting those ramps moved. And then the developments there, waiting to come," Williams said.

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