This man is a high level Mass Highway department employee, but you'll see and hear him only in disguise.

Mass Highway Employee”I'm nervous that there will be retribution.”

He doesn't want to lose his job, but he wants you to know that not enough state inspectors are overseeing highway construction. The result: highways statewide threatened with waste fraud abuse and danger.

Mass Highway Employee”I think this is horrible. I'm a taxpayer, just like everyone else. We want our money's worth.”

The Big Dig disaster put highway construction under the microscope; the deadly collapse and its shocking consequences, not only revealing dangerous construction flaws, but system wide mismanagement and glaring lack of oversight and inspection.

And our investigation found insiders now predict more disaster down the road.

Mary Richards, Former President, Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists “The Big Dig is only the poster child for what can go wrong on highway projects across the state.”

Every day across the state dozens of highway construction projects are each assigned a “resident engineer”. Their job is to keep an eye on contractors and make sure the work is done properly. This is what happens when its not: cracks, potholes, and substandard construction.

Mass Highway Employee”It's enormously critical.”

Federal guidelines we found say each supervisor “should ideally cover no more than three smaller jobs or just one large project. But this man reveals he and his colleagues are required to oversee five, six and seven different job sites at a time.

Hank”How can you possibly oversee 6 projects at one time?'

Mass Highway Employee”You can't its impossible.”

They all must sign off on construction quality but admit that with so many projects to oversee they simply can't know.

Hank”But how can you know if something went wrong?”

Mass Highway Employee”We'll you find out after it happened, but its too late then.”

As a result, job site supervisors demanded this inspection disclaimer they're now allowed to sign off “to the best of my knowledge”.

Hank”So you are being asked to sign off on work that you've never seen?”

Mass Highway Employee”Sometimes, yes.”

We found it's been a problem for years. This 2003 federal highway administration report says “overall staffing levels are well below the minimum standard.” These union grievances from highway workers complain they're being assigned to oversee jobs when they're not qualified.

Hank”Right now are taxpayers getting what they pay for?”

Attorney Paul Donohue, Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists”It's impossible to tell, it's like the luck of the draw.”

The result you pay for potentially shoddy construction, then pay again to fix it.

Atty. Paul Donohue, Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists”It's a terrible situation because roads my fail, bridges may fail, not right away, but maybe the life of those roads and bridges is not what it should be.”

Mass Highway officials insist their projects are safe and staffing is up, but even their own figures prove they may be 100 staffers down.

Hank”Why don't your staffing levels meet federal guidelines?”

Jon Carlisle, Mass Highway Department, Executive Office of Transportation”We are working to manage within a budget and to distribute our engineers in the best way possible.”

Officials admit engineers are assigned multiple job sites but are confident the system works.

Hank”Does it worry you your own engineers are concerned?”

Jon Carlisle, Mass Highway Department, Executive Office of Transportation”It's something we obviously have to manage.”

Barricades and closed tunnels keep Massachusetts drivers haunted by the past and those who build your highways say they're just as fearful of the future.

Mary Richards, Former President, Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists”If things don't change I think you can look forward to more failures, in the public safety arena, they may not be as dramatic as the big dig tragedy, but I cant say they wouldn't be either.”

The massive reorganization now underway may offer a unique solution, sources tell us state transportation officials could pull engineers from their jobs on the Mass Pike and reassign them to highway projects.

(Copyright (c) 2006 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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