Snoqualmie Casino offers $1 million to WSDOT for SR18 improvements

Casino’s action was spurred by the death of two employees in an accident on the highway last month.

The Snoqualmie Casino has offered the state Department of Transportation $1 million to pay for an assessment for design and construction of improvements to state Route 18 between Issaquah-Hobart Road and Interstate 90.

On Oct. 12, casino employees Maria Wong and Jasmine Lao were killed in a crash with a driver under the influence on SR 18 while on their way to work. The crash got the Snoqualmie Casino and Snoqualmie Tribe spurred the casino’s involvement in making the road safer for all travelers.

Snoqualmie Casino CEO Brian Decorah said an offer letter was sent on Thursday, Oct. 25, to Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar and Gov. Jay Inslee.

“We lost two of our most beloved team members — it was something that affected all of us,” Decorah said.

Within a day of hearing about the crash, Decorah was reading about the WSDOT plan for an assessment of the road for future improvements. The offer of $1 million is available to WSDOT if they begin the assessment within the next 90 days, instead of waiting until they get the funding that is set aside until 2019. WSDOT already has $1 million set aside for funding the project for 2019, but Decorah said the casino wanted to try to get the work done sooner.

Decorah presented the idea to the Snoqualmie Tribal Council who were unanimously in support of the proposal.

About 40 percent of the employees at the Snoqualmie Casino commute in to the area on SR 18, Decorah said, so investing in the safety of their employees and the region as a whole is important to them. Decorah hopes the work can begin soon, so another accident can be prevented.

“While we are encouraged to learn that there is state-approved funding for the project, we are concerned that the dollars will not be available until sometime next year,” Decorah said in a press release. “We have 450 team members that travel this stretch of road, every day. Each day without action is another day that we wait to hear news of another tragedy. We don’t want to wait. We want action, for Maria, Jasmine, and everyone who has lost a loved one on this road.”

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