Casino offers $1 million for fix on SR 18 after employees killed in crash

After two employees were killed as they drove to work on SR 18 earlier this month, the CEO of Snoqualmie Casino has offered $1 million in funding to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

This comes two weeks after a mother and daughter died in a fatal accident on their way to work at Snoqualmie Casino.

The Snoqualmie Tribe says the money would come from its casino earnings.

The casino says 40 percent of its workers risk their lives to get to work every day on State Route 18.

So the Snoqualmie Tribe agreed with its new casino CEO that they can't wait for this road to be made safer.

"It was devastating," said Brian Decorah. "They were special to us, very special."

The deaths of Maria Wong and her daughter, Jasmine Lao, were personal for Decorah.

Seventeen days ago, the mother and daughter were headed to their casino jobs. 
But a driver, suspected of being high on drugs, crossed the center line on SR 18 and slammed into them.

Since 2014, four casino workers have been killed on this highway.

"We've got 450 team members that still drive it every day," he said. "So we want to do what we can to speed up the process to get that road improved, widened and safer for everybody."

So the tribe is proposing sending a million dollars of its casino earnings to speed up a state study on making SR 18 safer.

This, after the state said it wouldn't have the money until 2019.

The tribe's million dollar investment would be on top of what it already hands over to the state.

"This is an opportunity where we're in a financial situation where we can offer to help the state to move things forward," Decorah said.

A state tribe has done this before.

When the Cowlitz Tribe's year-old Ilani Casino was built, it picked up the entire $32 million price-tag to build an I-5 interchange to provide a way in for prospective gamblers.

The Snoqualmie Tribe made its offer to the state late last week.

West Seattle driver Ryan Meneely, stopped at the West Tiger Mountain Parking Lot to eat his lunch was asked if the thinks the state should accept the tribe's money.

"It sounds to me like they should," he said. "It's hard to say the state should be forced as a result. But you've got a bunch of workers here that have a vested interest in getting to and from work safely."

The state DOT would not make anyone available to talk on camera about this.

But they did send a statement saying they are working to determine how to respond to the casino's offer.

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