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 "department of transportation" ...

  • Unprotected

    An NBC 5 investigation found the Texas Department of Transportation failed to put up guardrails in locations where state and federal guidelines suggest they should have been installed. In some of those spots with no guardrails drivers have died after colliding with large concrete bridge posts that sit unprotected, some just feet from the roadway.
  • Frankenstein Guardrails

    The FOX31 Denver’s investigative unit discovered Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance crews assembling guardrail systems with mix-and-match parts from competing manufacturers. By “Frankensteining” already questionable end-cap terminals, with incompatible rails, the state had been creating serious road safety hazards for years. Within a week of the revelation, the Federal Highway Administration ordered a nationwide warning and Colorado began inspecting every guardrail system in the state (42,000 end-cap terminals/21,000 guardrail systems), repairing hundreds of dangerous installation errors.
  • Dangerous Air Bags

    The Department of Transportation is investigating Knoxville, Tenn. based ARC Automotive for potentially manufacturing faulty air bag inflators. The inflators can become clogged over time, investigators believe, causing the driver to be hit with shrapnel in a low-speed crash. WBIR 10News tracked down and interviewed a victim who was nearly killed in such a crash. Her complaint sparked the nationwide recall investigation.
  • 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.
  • Fraud on the Job

    KING 5 dedicated nearly a year to dig into the complex world of the federal minority contracting program. The program is intended to remedy past and current discrimination against minority and women-owned contracting businesses who want a shot at working on federal highway projects. But instead of fostering equal opportunity, KING found staggering fraud and abuse in the taxpayer-funded program. The investigative series titled “Fraud on the Job" was born. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is responsible for administering the program. WSDOT contracts with a small state agency, the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) to certify which contractors qualify as "disadvantaged business enterprises" or DBEs. They also make sure that once in, the companies aren’t cheating or becoming too big to qualify. The state’s share of billions of federal highway funds comes with some strings attached, including a requirement that a certain percentage of money spent on transportation projects be reserved for minority-owned firms. The results of the “Fraud on the Job” series were swift and extraordinary. Two days after the first story aired, the governor ordered the Washington State Patrol to conduct a criminal fraud investigation. She also ordered a top-to- bottom review of OMWBE. Two weeks later, the governor asked the director of OMWBE to resign. Another top manager quit and another was fired. Two of the companies KING exposed as defrauding the government were removed from the DBE program by the state. State and federal legislation is now being drafted to stop the cheating. And now the FBI and the Inspector General of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation are investigating.
  • "Killer Roads"

    Reporter Thomas Hargrove analyzed road segments across the United States to identify dangerous and potentially fatal flaws in the highways. He found that highway fatalities are on the rise, and the cause of these deaths is becoming more and more unclear. Some of the most dangerous roads can be found in California, Arizona and Nevada.
  • "Minority Contractors in Illinois Get Few Stimulus Dollars"

    WBEZ Radio "analyzed contract documents" from the Illinois Department of Transportation to investigate where the money awarded from the Recovery Act is actually going. The analysis revealed that minority- and female-owned businesses are not getting their fair share of the funds.
  • The Stimulus Debate

    This series examined the effectiveness of the nearly $800 billion federal stimulus package. Reporters explored several issues related to the package, such as whether the money was going to contractors with problems in their past and whether money was going to places allowed under the legislation.
  • Fatal Freeway Design: HOV Lanes in North texas

    "Despite official claims of success, WFAA-TV showed the design of the newly opened HOV carpool lanes in the Dallas area lead to a 40% spike in serious car crashes and directly contributed to three deaths."
  • Fake Parking Ticket Scandal

    It was found that at least one city parking agent had been issuing fake parking tickets to residents and tourists in Baltimore. The Inspector General led an investigation which led to one agent being suspended without pay and city prosecutors reviewed the case to help in the criminal investigation.