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Gov’t Communications on “Train to Nowhere” Probed by CEI's FOIA of Department of Transportation

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Gov’t Communications on “Train to Nowhere” Probed by CEI's FOIA of Department of Transportation

$715 Million Rail Construction Off to Questionable Start in Rural California Central Valley

Washington, DC, June 21, 2011 – Americans deserve to know what government officials really think about the “train to nowhere” supported by the Obama administration and some politicians in California. That’s why the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), seeking communications and records pertaining to congressional liaison and the Central Valley High-Speed Rail Corridor.

The $715 million Obama stimulus money – the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – granted to the Central Valley corridor was announced on October 25, 2010, just over a week before the November election.

“Californians have been questioning the reasoning of this ARRA grant for months,” said Marc Scribner, a land-use and transportation policy analyst at CEI’s Center for Economic Freedom who submitted the FOIA request on behalf of CEI.

“With the recent highly critical reports of both the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Independent Peer Review Group on the questionable future of high-speed rail in California, Californians and the rest of America have many questions that merit answers,” said Scribner. “The need for increased transparency is even more apparent after the Department of Transportation rejected attempts by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to secure more flexibility in where to construct and operate the first segment.”

CEI’s interest in the documents springs from its efforts to shed light on this expensive public transport project funded by ARRA.

The FOIA request includes the release of any and all written correspondence or other records sent or received by the OST or the FRA; specifically, documents that cite, name, or reference U.S. Representative Dennis Cardoza and U.S. Representative James Costa, their respective offices, staffs, and the 18th and 20th California Congressional Districts, respectively.

Additionally, CEI will be requesting any and all written correspondence or records related to the Central Valley High-Speed Rail Corridor proposed to be built between Borden and Corcoran, California, that specifically reference former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, California High-Speed Rail Authority President Roelof van Ark, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and FRA Administrator Joe Szabo.

The ultimate goal of this request is to increase transparency. CEI seeks to disclose all information regarding the appropriation of tax dollars in constructing this “train to nowhere,” ascertain the effect on the taxpayer, and reveal the rationale behind the Department of Transportation’s unbending resolve in pursuing this project.

> Read the FOIA requests on cei.org