Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "bridges" ...

  • Hollow Columns

    At least 22 highway bridges in Washington state sit on hollow concrete columns that are at risk of instantaneous implosion in a major earthquake. The state doesn’t know how to fix them. In addition, the state knows of 474 bridges that are at risk of crumbling in a big quake. The state has insufficient funds to fix them. Highways that are part of the Puget Sound region’s “seismic lifeline” emergency aid routes were found by KUOW to contain dozens of seismically vulnerable bridges. The state does not publish the totality of its infrastructure needs, in contrast to its seismic cousin California. Until KUOW published a map showing the locations of the endangered bridges, no such public information was available.
  • Unprepared

    Unprepared was a multi-platform series, culminating in a broadcast documentary, that examined Oregon's failure to prepare for the known risk of a major earthquake. Reporters conducted hundreds of interviews, accessed government documents and built their own databases in a year-long effort that exposed many inadequacies in current seismic preparedness and the state’s lagging response. http://www.opb.org/news/series/unprepared/oregon-earthquake-fuel-breakdown-90-percent/ http://www.opb.org/news/series/unprepared/earthquake-oregon-coastal-towns-cease-to-exist/ http://www.opb.org/television/programs/ofg/episodes/2701/ http://www.opb.org/news/series/unprepared/earthquake-oregon-bridges-collapse/ http://www.opb.org/aftershock/ http://www.opb.org/news/widget/oregons-seismic-achilles-heel/ http://www.opb.org/news/widget/unprepared-schools-and-hospitals-at-risk/ http://www.opb.org/news/widget/seismically-vulnerable-bridges-in-oregon/ http://www.opb.org/news/series/unprepared/oregon-earthquake-fuel-breakdown-90-percent/ http://www.opb.org/news/series/unprepared/oregon-earthquake-14-gallons-water/ http://www.opb.org/news/series/unprepared/living-off-your-quake-kit-weekend-wrap-up/ http://www.opb.org/radio/programs/thinkoutloud/segment/earthquake-what-holds-us-back-from-being-prepared-for-a-disaster/ http://www.opb.org/news/series/unprepared/new-hospital-planned-in-tsunami-zone/ http://www.opb.org/news/series/unprepared/unprepared-towns-along-coast-manage-tsunami-risk-in-different-ways/
  • BOOM - North America's Explosive Oil-by-Rail Problem

    Emergency orders, safety alerts and sweeping regulatory proposals gave the public the sense that Washington responded appropriately after a train filled with North Dakota oil killed 47 and destroyed the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic in July 2013—but the report shows that 18 months later little has changed and the regulatory process has failed. The story documents the extent to which the regulation of train cars is left almost entirely to the industry. And it matters now because of the massive increase in explosive cargo from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That fuel is rich in volatile natural gas liquids. If a railcar ruptures—and if some of the gas comes into contact with the outside air and a spark occurs—the railcar will explode and act as a blow torch on the car next to it. With each car carrying roughly 30,000 gallons of oil, a single, 100-car train can haul as much as 3 million gallons of oil. Among the key findings about the lack of federal regulation: not enough government inspectors; little oversight of railroad bridges; state and local governments can’t independently assess the condition of local rail infrastructure; and meager penalties.
  • Falling Apart

    The roads and bridges Americans drive on every day are in dire need of repair or replacement - many of them are "on life support." Nearly 70,000 bridges in the U.S. are deemed structurally deficient - that's one out of every nine bridges in the country. Steve Kroft reports on the critical condition of America's infrastructure and why the problem persists.
  • Trains Plus Crude Oil Equals Trouble Down the Track

    The project represents a yearlong examination of the response to safety problems associated with a massive and sudden increase in crude oil transported by rail. It found that government and industry had failed to identify and correct safety gaps in the rail system, including the inspection and maintenance of track and bridges and the design of the tank cars carrying the oil. It also showed that government efforts to better inform local emergency response personnel still left them in the dark on some types of crude oil moved by rail and on smaller shipments. Additionally, the project detailed efforts by railroads and some states to keep even limited information about crude oil trains out of public view.
  • Billion Dollar Judge

    In 2016, the Social Security Disability trust fund is scheduled to become the first Federal program to run out of money. As Congress and the President race to find a way to save the fund, CBS 21 discovered an outlying disability judge who has approved billions in disability benefits over the past decade. This judge has approve six times more than the average disability judge and more than twice as much as America’s second highest active judge. Three weeks after CBS 21 reported on his record, Judge Charles Bridges was subpoenaed to testify before the United State Congress where this entry was discussed under oath and is now in Congressional record.
  • FRACTURE CRITICAL: COLORADO’S DETERIORATING RAILROADS

    FOX31 Denver reviewed safety inspections for more than 150 railroad bridges in Colorado and found about one-quarter flunked their latest safety inspection or were deteriorating toward what inspectors call “structurally deficient.” The investigation uncovered one failed rail road bridge which had been struck at least 38 times by heavy trucks and semis - without a single repair.
  • CUCitAccess:Bridges

    Despite bridges being deemed structurally deficient or obsolete, it can take years or more to get funding to fix or replace them in Champaign County, according to a review of data and documents.
  • Deeply Buried Doubts: Errors and Fraud Threaten California’s Costliest Bridge

    This year-long investigation examined construction and testing of the new $6.4 billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and found widespread errors and malfeasance. The new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is the most costly public works project in California history. Its designers valued one quality above all others: the strength to withstand the strongest anticipated earthquake. This investigation raised questions about the structural integrity of the span that are not easy to answer. It revealed flaws in tests of the main tower’s foundation, chronicled the troubled work history of the technician who conducted many of the tests and had fabricated data on other structures. The series also revealed bridges throughout the state burdened with similar issues – raising calls for new safety examinations. Until contacted by The Bee, the California Department of Transportation had overlooked the problems with the Bay Bridge. But the findings of the initial stories of the series – validated by top experts in the construction and testing of such massive foundations – forced them to act. Two Caltrans employees – the technician and his supervisor – were fired as a result of the Bee stories, prosecutors launched investigations and state legislative committees convened to examine the department’s practices and culture. The stories were based on a review of about 80,000 pages of technical plans, test results, internal emails and personnel documents, and interviews with numerous insiders. The Bee showed how officials failed to conduct a thorough investigation of testing fabrications, years after learning of the problems. After the initial story in 2011 (not part of this award application, but included in the submission for context only), Caltrans’ “peer review” experts examined the Bay Bridge– and gave it a clean bill of health. Piller showed soon after that they were compromised by serious financial and professional conflicts of interest with Caltrans and bridge contractors.
  • Earmarks To Nowhere

    Just when you thought you had read every outrageous story about congressional pork, last year USA TODAY revealed $13 billion in "orphan earmarks"- highway spending directed to pet projects but never spent. For states, this uncooked pork came at a tremendous cost: almost $7.5 billion of the earmarked money was taken directly out of the state's direct highway funding- meaning states literally lost billions they could have spent to improve or build bridges and highways.