Gates’ tunnel beneath Highway 106

The in basket: Emily Bachel asks about all the work on Highway 106 by Alderbrook Inn in Mason County.
“The work has been going on for some time,” she said. “The rumors are that Bill Gates, who has property adjacent to the resort,  is actually having a tunnel put under the road to simplify his access to the road.  Could you verify this?”

The in basket: Emily Bachel asks about all the work on Highway 106 by Alderbrook Inn in Mason County.
“The work has been going on for some time,” she said. “The rumors are that Bill Gates, who has property adjacent to the resort,  is actually having a tunnel put under the road to simplify his access to the road.  Could you verify this?”
The out basket: It appears to be good information.
The state says Watermark Estate Management Services of Kirkland is paying the entire $2.05 million for the work, and there is indeed a tunnel under the road.
“An ‘air space’ lease allows Watermark to use (state) right-of-way to travel within the tunnel – which (the state) owns,” state spokesperson Jamie Swift said. Don’t expect public access to it.
The tunnel is kind of hard to get a look at, as one has to trespass onto private property to see it. I did that before being told I had to go, and saw that the tunnel is an impressive brick archway, or faced in brick, on the Hood Canal side anyway. A workman chased me away before I got to see the other side. I would imagine it will get the same brick facade if it doesn’t have it already.
It’s a little hard to picture how the tunnel will be used. It ‘s considerably lower than the terrain on each side of it and sort of sits in a hole. There is earth to be moved in the future, I would guess. The state says the tunnel will connect “five Watermark-owned residential properties within a private development that were divided by the recently realigned (highway).”
It’s wide enough for a vehicle, but the state called it a pedestrian trail.
Terry Bow of Mason County Assessor Dixie Smith’s staff said having a highway run through it is death on a destination resort, so Alderbrook’s owners, North 40 Lodging of Issaquah, and Gates paid to move the highway. Watermark Estate Management is Gates, Bow said, and several Gates family members live there.
They’ve been disturbed by public curiosity, Bow said, to the point of buses of tourists stopping, hoping to get a glimpse of the world’s richest man, or his home. The moved highway probably separates the home from the highway a little, but it was the resort’s needs that drove the relocation, he said.

One thought on “Gates’ tunnel beneath Highway 106

  1. It is not the local folk doing the gawking…it’s the groupies moving to Belfair because they heard Gates lived there…amazing. The locals mind their own business.
    Maybe Gates and the others will move to another area without all the fuss about it…and not let their presence be known.
    In any case, tunnels are not new. The fanciest tunnel I have seen was in Toronto and the – beautiful- tunnel led from the main house to the horse stables. Very nice.
    One less fancy, but functional, none the less, is the tunnel running under the highway on Beaver Valley in Jefferson County… the tunnel was used to move horses from one side of the road to the other safely..
    Tunnels make sense.
    I hope that Bremerton will soon get theirs…

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