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 "highways" ...

  • The Center for Public Integrity: Wireless Wars: The Fight Over 5G

    One of the largest deployments of wireless technology in decades is occurring as telecommunications companies erect a new network of small cells to support the next generation of wireless communications called 5G. The problem, however, brings these small cells into neighborhoods and business districts, unlike the larger towers seen along highways and in fields far from centers of population. And with it, resistance from citizens. The clash pits telecoms, which want to ease regulations to reduce costs, against local governments and their residents, who want to control the look and placement of the cells and defend revenue and public property rights. The Center reports on how the telecoms are relying on money and tried-and-true relationships with politicians and regulators to get their way. And they are winning.
  • Houston Chronicle: Out of Control

    When new residents of Houston first hit the roads, many come to the same realization: This is not normal. The highways are a labyrinthine mess. The motorists drive at extraordinarily high speed, often distracted. At night, drunk drivers weave in and out of traffic. Those factors lead to daily tragedy. Chronicle reporters knew the carnage was unusual. In 2016, they began investigating the scope of the problem. The findings: the greater Houston region was the nation’s deadliest major metro area for roadway fatalities, with more than 640 deaths annually – or the equivalent of three fully loaded 737s crashing and killing all aboard, every year. They found declining speeding enforcement, even as deaths rose. They also discovered similar results with DWI and distracted driving enforcement.
  • 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.
  • China's Animal Activists

    In China, passion for animal welfare is driving a grassroots movement challenging economic interests and political authorities. In 2014 activists confronted the dog meat trade as never before, intercepting transports on the highways and attempting to stop an annual dog meat festival in the city of Yulin. Most acted out of a deep love for animals, which has awakened as pets have become increasingly popular among the middle class and the Buddhist value of compassion has reemerged after decades of disfavor. This article tells the story of several weeks during June of 2014 when a group of activists went to Yulin to challenge the festival.
  • Stop and Seize: Cops and the Cash They Confiscate

    After Sept. 11, 2001, federal authorities asked local and state police to serve as their eyes and ears on America's highways. The departments of Justice and Homeland Security, along with state agencies, spent millions to train them in an aggressive technique known as highway interdiction. But it soon became something else: Dragnets that swept up the criminal and innocent alike in a search for money. The Washington Post series revealed one of the great unknown consequences of 9/11. Local and state police, working through a Justice program called Equitable Sharing, have made nearly 62,000 cash seizures totally $2.5 billion since 9/11, without warrants or criminal charges.
  • Spearing Cars in the Name of Safety

    Guardrails on the nation's highways are supposed to protect us. Too often, though, they have inflicted harm. Patrick G. Lee investigated how a Texas company altered its taxpayer-funded guardrail system under the government's nose, to potentially deadly effect. Months before other media, Lee exposed the potential hazard posed by Trinity Industries Inc.'s ET-Plus end terminal, a 175-pound piece of steel mounted at the ends of a guardrail. Intended to absorb the force of a crash, some of them lock up, piercing cars and their occupants. Lee recounted one would-be whistleblower's cross-country quest, starting in late 2011, to learn why these systems were spearing cars. The discovery: Trinity had modified the ET-Plus more than a half-decade earlier without telling regulators. The newer version, modified to cut manufacturing costs, was malfunctioning, several plaintiffs alleged.
  • Medical Marijuana

    Loose restrictions in state law and scant oversight by regulators have allowed people to hijack Oregon’s medical marijuana program for purposes voters never intended, The Oregonian’s investigation revealed. Most patients are using the drug to treat chronic pain rather than terminal illness, far more marijuana is grown than patients consume, and traffickers ship the excess out of state for profit. At the heart of the yearlong investigation was a wide range of public records. First there were written documents: court records and police reports on medical marijuana growers; disciplinary actions against doctors who admit patients to the state program; internal policy manuals; and correspondence between regulators and doctors. Then there were electronic data. Through months of negotiations, the paper persuaded state health authorities to release a database of participants in the marijuana program that protected patient confidentiality. A separate database on Oregon State Police traffic stops helped us to demonstrate the widespread diversion of medical marijuana to the black market. Among the investigation’s original results, published as an occasional series: Communities in southern Oregon have concentrations of marijuana patients 10 times the statewide average; Police patrolling Oregon’s highways now seize more West Coast medical marijuana than pot grown outside the program; The state places few limitations on felons participating in the program, and dozens of trafficking prosecutions involve medical marijuana cardholders with existing criminal histories; Fifty-two children are legally permitted to use pot under the state program, with limited input from pediatricians or specialists treating their underlying illnesses; Nine doctors signed off on more than half the patients in the program, and 75 percent of patients used doctors with improbably high caseloads.
  • Hidden Behind the Badge

    For more than a decade, the New Jersey State Police had to answer to a federal monitor after admissions the force engaged in racial profiling on state highways in the late 1990s. That oversight ended in 2009, but "Hidden Behind the Badge," a yearlong investigation by The Star-Ledger’s Christopher Baxter, showed many of the State Police’s bad habits remain. In a remarkable run of reporting throughout 2012, Baxter exposed actions by troopers that shocked the public, drew national attention, prompted unprecedented shakeups of top brass and spurred new state investigations, suspensions, criminal charges and legislation. He also got the attention of New Jersey’s most powerful political leaders by digging into how the State Police operates, showing whistleblowers fear career-killing reprisals for speaking up, proving the promotion system is more subjective than nearly any other in the country and raising questions about training to recognize diabetic shock.
  • 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.
  • Asleep at the Wheel

    Driver fatigue kills more people on the highways than texting, cell phone use and all other distractions combined. Yet the underlying factors of fatigue-related crashes have yet to capture the attention of Congress, the public and federal regulators. The WCNC-TV Investigative Team spent months drilling down into one cause that has received almost no national attention: sleep apnea. An estimated 13 to 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and with increases in obesity which is related to the disorder, that number is climbing. Studies show drivers with sleep apnea are exponentially more likely to crash. And millions of long-haul truckers are more prone to sleep apnea than the average driver of a "four-wheeler".