Contractor Selected For Lexington/Sycamore Lights Installation

Photo: The intersection of Lexington and Sycamore streets

Nearly two years after a Belmont resident was hit and killed by a van as she walked in the crosswalk at Lexington and Sycamore streets, the Select Board rewarded a contract to make safety improvements to the intersection.

Pine Ridge Technologies of North Reading was the low bidder to remove the speed table and install signal lights at the corners, Glenn Clancy, Belmont’s director of community development told the Select Board at its marathon meeting on Aug. 10.

Sachi Thanawala, 39, of Sycamore Street died on the morning of Aug. 30, 2018, after being hit by a commercial van as she was walking in the crosswalk heading to work.

Estimated at $450,000, Pine Ridge out bid three other firms with a price of $414,003. Clancy added that a supplemental appropriation for $100,000 from State Rep Dave Rogers’ office will reduce the total cost paid by Belmont to $314,000. Most of the cost of the project will go towards the metal computerized controller boxes that house the lights’ “brains” which has a price tag of between $100,000 to $150,000.

“For me the most important feature in the design and ultimately what would be constructed is a dedicated pedestrian crossing phase,” said Clancy. When a pedestrian activates the cross button and traffic stops all traffic from all directions “so there will be no more conflicts during the walk stage which I think is very important.”

The new lights will be designed so it’s interconnected with the intersection at Lexington and Church streets. When traffic releases from there, it’ll proceed up to Sycamore Street where the lights will allow traffic to continue moving with will prevent grid lock during the morning and evening rush.

Clancy thanked the community and the Traffic Advisory Committee for its contribution.

Clancy said work on the intersection will begin in the next couple of weeks and if the late fall and early winter is mild, the job can be completed before the first day of 2021.

Driver Charged in Fatal Pedestrian/Vehicle Crash In Belmont

Photo: Sachi Thanawala.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin announced today, Friday, Sept. 21, that Raymond O’Brien, 45, of Medford has been charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in connection with an August 28, fatal collision in Belmont that took the life of Belmont resident Sachi Thanawala.

Based on the preliminary investigation it was determined that the defendant was not in possession of a valid driver’s license and subsequently not permitted to operate a motor vehicle. The defendant had previously been licensed to operate in Massachusetts; however, that license had expired in 2004.

This charge is an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, according to the DA’s office.

On Aug. 28, at approximately 8:25 a.m., Belmont Police responded to a report of a motor vehicle crash involving a pedestrian at the intersection of Lexington and Sycamore streets. Upon arrival, authorities located Thanawala, 39, of Sycamore Street, who had sustained serious injuries. Thanawala was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where she died on Aug. 30. O’Brien, who was operating the vehicle, a 2015 Ford Transit Van, remained on scene.

Through their investigation authorities learned that the decedent was crossing the street at the intersection when the defendant allegedly turned left striking her.

This is an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, the Belmont Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section. The prosecutor assigned to this case is Assistant District Attorney Taylor Makson.