Why All the Secrecy?

September 3, 2014

Hartford, CT – The Ranking members of the State Transportation Committee are questioning the apparent secrecy behind a second train station in Bridgeport. State Senator Toni Boucher and State Representative David Scribner have sent several letters to the Governor requesting information on the planning and design for a new Barnum Rail Station in Bridgeport. To date they have not received any answers.

Over the holiday weekend, it was revealed in a report done by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers that in fact the State Department of Transportation was caught off guard too.

“Why all the secrecy and how can questions respectfully asked of this administration go unanswered?” said Sen. Boucher.

“It is troubling that information about a major infrastructure change on our rail lines would be announced without informing the leaders of the state’s transportation committee and with some apparent confusion within the walls of our very own Department of Transportation,” said Rep. Scribner.

On July 18, two days after the administration made the public announcement of the second train station, Boucher and Scribner wrote to the governor and asked a series of questions including:

  • When did discussions begin on the need for this project?
  • Have any members of the legislature’s Transportation Committee received a briefing on this project and its scope?
  • How much will state taxpayers be asked to pay and how much will come from the federal government?

Boucher and Scribner were hoping to get answers for constituents before the money was approved by the State Bond Commission. But on July 25, the Commission voted to allocate $2,750,000 for the planning and design of the new station.

“The entire scope and cost of a second train station, whether justified or not, would be substantial. It is not financially responsible to spend nearly $3 million on a station design unless the project is certain to be approved and built. We have a number of 100 year old railroad bridges in desperate need of repair,” observed Senator Boucher. “Shouldn’t they be fixed first?”

“These are taxpayer dollars. The idea that this administration would not be transparent with leaders of a major committee who are representing taxpayers is unbelievable,” said Boucher.

Rep. Scribner said, “While we applaud the recent focus on rail infrastructure, we are very concerned that current pressing needs will take a back seat to new projects.”

On August 20, a second request was sent to the Governor’s Office. In part the letter read: We understand that you have a full schedule and are quite busy. The letter may have not reached you, as we have not received a response to date. We are making another attempt and have included the questions for your response.

Once again, legislators did not receive any response from the governor, or his staff.

Boucher added, “It appears someone tipped off reporters to the secrecy behind this project. Those internal emails are sadly the only way we have received any straight answers about what this administration is doing. That is troubling. Especially, when those answers appear to show CTDOT was left out of the loop too.”

Here are some of the notable quotes from emails obtained by the newspaper reporter:

  • “This was something of a surprise to us,” Judd Everhart, the DOT’s head of communications, wrote in a July 16 email to his counterpart at Metro-North, attaching the draft press release prepared ahead of Malloy’s visit to the Park City that same day.
  • “Is there some kind of event with the Governor on Wednesday in Bridgeport?” Everhart asked the governor’s staff on July 14. “Our deputy commissioner is supposed to attend….”
  • “Do we have any (money) left?” Card asked Maureen Kent, a transit manager.
  • “Personally, I have no more detail to share than the (governor’s) press release offers,” (Craig) Bordiere (a supervisor in the DOT’s rail office) wrote in an email.

It remains unclear how much the Barnum Station project will cost and whether the design will ever be made.

Please find copies of the Boucher Scribner letters to the governor: