Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The Boston Globe's big story last Saturday quoting an MIT physicist as saying that Big Dig officials went far overboard in claiming that 800,000 people crossed the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge on the previous Sunday, when state officials staged the crossover in an effort to take the taxpayers' focus away from the enormous and still-growing cost of the project, was amusing in that it too, like the rest of the media in Massachusetts—was an accomplice in circulating the 800,000 figure to all of its readers. Reporters for newspapers and the electronic media are well aware of the ongoing practice of public officials to exaggerate crowd numbers at parades, political gatherings and other public affairs when it is to their advantage. They shouldn't have swallowed those crowd numbers and if they were naive enough to buy them, their editors presumably have been around long enough to cast a shadow of disbelief on what the overpaid Big Dig PR machine circulated. When one looks at the massive cost to the taxpayers of Massachusetts of the Big Dig, the words of Congressman Barney Frank of Newton who opposed it when he was a state legislator here, come to mind: Rep. Frank predicted, somewhat in jest, that it would be cheaper to raise the City of Boston than to depress the Central Artery!

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