Miwok casino comes closer to being built 4-9-07

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) - Work is expected to begin later this month on a Highway 50 interchange to serve a new Indian casino in Shingle Springs.

The casino, which is being built by the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2008.

The casino has been held up for years by lawsuits, including one that is on appeal by a local group called Voices for Rural Living. Last month, the 3rd District Court of Appeal denied the group's bid to stop construction on the interchange until the case is resolved.

The casino is to be built on 160 acres of tribal land north of Highway 50 in El Dorado County. Without a freeway interchange, the only access to the land is over narrow roads that are maintained by a neighboring homeowners association.

The tribe has pledged to begin work on the 85,000-square-foot Foothill Oaks Casino as soon as a construction road can be built that can support heavy equipment.

In September, the tribe settled a lawsuit with the county, which had sued over the costs of the additional traffic the casino would create.

The tribe agreed to pay the county at least $191.6 million over 20 years. That includes $104 million for construction of diamond lanes on Highway 50.