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Big Dig Memo Called A Fake

The construction company that built the underground freeway tunnel to the international airport where a motorist was killed by falling concrete panels on Thursday claimed a memo purported to be written by a safety supervisor warning that parts of the roof could collapse was fabricated.

The memo dated May 17, 1999 bears the signature of John J. Keaveney and raised several concerns about the safety of the bolt-and-epoxy ceiling design in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel where a woman was killed July 10 when ceiling panels fell on her car.

The bolt-and-epoxy system has been the focus of the investigation into the collapse in the $14.6 billion highway project.

The memo was mailed to The Boston Globe late last month, and Keaveney later verified to the newspaper that he wrote it while working for Modern Continental Construction Co.

The memo warns that someone could "be seriously injured or even worse killed as a result" of the ceiling design. It also questions "how this structure can withhold the test of time."

The company issued a statement late Wednesday that said it has conducted a thorough review of its files and found no evidence of Keaveney's memo. Some documents also appear to contradict the memo's timing, the company said.

"Based on an extensive review of documents, including invoices for delivery of materials, commencement-of-work records, and safety reports signed by Mr. Keaveney, Modern Continental believes the memo he allegedly prepared in May 1999 was fabricated," the statement said.

The company provided documents that noted:

  • the memo describes concerns of ironworkers installing the ceiling, but there were no ironworkers on the project at that date;
  • the letterhead on the memo doesn't match letterhead used by the company at that time;
  • Keaveney did not go on the payroll for workers specifically on the connector tunnel until two weeks after the date of the memo, but he had been employed by Modern since 1997.

    Keaveney's lawyer said his client maintains the authenticity of the memo, although he acknowledged that Keaveney may have made some mistakes about the exact timing of some events.

    "When provided a copy of the memo by a reporter on July 25, John Keaveney verified it as his own without hesitation, and he stands by that memo," attorney Edward G. Boyle III told the Globe on Wednesday.

    Neither Boyle nor Keaveney immediately returned calls from The Associated Press. Keaveney is now a safety officer for Shawmut Design and Construction in Boston.