Disputes the facts

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To the Editor:

When you write an editorial about the importance of sticking to the facts (Dec. 1, 2021), it is important to stick to the facts, and all of them, not just the skinny stream that lines up with what you want to be true. 

You speak of the “size of the terminal building” in Woods Hole, as though there is only one. There are two, and together, according to SSA documents, they total over 12,800 square feet. That’s larger than the terminal building at any other terminal, and more than 5,500 square feet larger than the largest building at any SSA terminal, the 7,000-square-foot Hyannis building. 

Furthermore, while the SSA did indeed take the second floor off the jumbo ticket office it had planned, it put everything it took off right into the second planned terminal building, and it seized that opportunity to expand the total by an extra 1,490 square feet. In addition, the SSA built a brand-new 32,000-square-foot building in Falmouth — just shy of three-quarters of an acre of floor space. Nobody reading your editorial, or the Nov. 23 MV Times article (“Sizing up the SSA terminals”) that preceded it, would have discerned these facts. 

You and the SSA Vineyard representative take issue with a comment that one of us (Nat Trumbull) made about SSA truck trips. SSA documents show clearly that the SSA exceeded 600 trucks in a single day, on May 30, 2019, as a case in point, between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard. The method we have used to make this calculation has been available as a link in the reader comments of your newspaper (bit.ly/SMARTtrucks). The data are difficult to work with, and include all trucks as defined by the SSA, not just the large trucks that SSA cited. Advocates have made the point in good faith that there are simply too many trucks and commercial vehicles traveling through Falmouth and Woods Hole to avoid serious public health, safety, and environmental harms to our community. Your editorial wrote about “600 round trips,” and confuses round trips with trucks transported, and thus does not stick to the facts. The writer never referred to round trips. The editorial is wrong on the facts, and presents a view from the writer that was never expressed. This, in an editorial about sticking to the facts.

You say, “The SSA board has shown a willingness to seek off-Cape ports where freight service to Martha’s Vineyard can be accommodated, but that’s going to take time, and it’s also going to have to be economically feasible.” Everyone in the conversation already knows that in 2001 the SSA used its legal power to kill off a fully viable plan for the private company Seabulk to carry passengers, cars, and freight between New Bedford and the Vineyard. That is shortly after the SSA board unanimously voted to establish a goal to reduce freight traffic through Woods Hole to 1997 levels. And what has the SSA board instead done over the past two decades? It has more than doubled its total traffic through Woods Hole, and it has expanded freight traffic into the wee hours of the morning through five miles of residential neighborhood. 

Sticking to the facts avoids false narratives. Your editorial risks creating one at the expense of demonizing conscientious public advocacy. That cannot help honest discussion of the issues.

 

John Woodwell
Nat Trumbull
Woods Hole