Friday, January 25, 2008

Developer Says Sound Tunnel Will Help Reduce Traffic But If It Doesn't, He Won't Build it.

If you're looking for an example of meaningless non-news, you have to look hard to do better than this story, in Newsday. The reporter was sent to cover the public hearing about the proposed Long Island Sound tunnel (the hearing was somewhere on Long Island, I think, although I'm not sure because the reporter doesn't say where). Covering a hearing is a pain because people tend to get up and say the same things that you've already heard and reported.

So to her credit, the reporter seems to have buttonholed developer Vincent Polimeni afterwards and asked him some questions. What she got out of him was this:

The developer who proposed a $10-billion tunnel beneath the Long Island Sound said at a hearing that he would pull the project if a regional traffic study finds it would make traffic worse.

"If it finds that it will enhance the traffic situation, we want to go forward," Garden City developer Vincent Polimeni said yesterday. "If it will make things worse, I'm stopping it. I don't want to waste more money."

Think of it: if the tunnel will make traffic worse, he won't build it. Now think of the opposite: Imagine if he had said, I don't care if the tunnel will make traffic worse, I want to build it anyway? Obviously there's no way in the world he would say that, even if it were true (whichit might be).

So why report it? I guess because Newsday had to send her and she had to come back with something.

This story, in the Journal News, is far better (for one thing, it tells us that the hearing was in the Oyster Bay Town Hall). The reporter was in on the same interview but added this:

Polimeni said he would commission a study to project the tunnel's impact on traffic - including on Interstate 287 and the Tappan Zee Bridge - and that it could be done within six months.

But Polimeni predicted that the tunnel project would not draw traffic. Rather, he said, it would help the region better handle the legions of cars and trucks already growing in number.

That at least allows us to question how objective a study is going to be if it is commissioned by a developer who has already made up his mind that the project will not increase traffic.



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