New Thayer Road Landmark: A 75 Foot Pole Thanks To MBTA

Photo: MBTA in Belmont

It will be easier to find Thayer Road next year if the MBTA has its way.

The out-of-the-way road – two roads as it splits half way down the street before entering Waltham – behind Sycamore Street on the western edge of Belmont could soon have its own landmark as the regional transportation system is proposing to place a 75 feet tall monopole on its right-of-way next to the Fitchburg line commuter rail tracks. 

Since the pole will be on MBTA property, it is exempt from local zoning bylaws. 

According to interim Belmont Town Manager Phyllis Marshall who spoke before the Board of Selectmen on Monday, July 31, the MBTA isn’t singling out Belmont as it is planning to install 300 of the poles in 60 communities along all its commuter rail lines to improve the WiFi and internet service on its trains. One mitigating factor in Belmont: the rail bed is about 20 feet below grade so the pole’s height will appear approximately 55 feet tall. 

Currently, any construction associated with the $150 million project – which was finalized between the state and a private company which will share in revenue from sponsorships, infrastructure leasing, and a premium wireless service – has been put on hold. After a growing number of communities on the North Shore protested the planned poles, a 30-day review was initiated by the MBTA to hear more comments on the project. 

After a growing number of communities on the North Shore protested the planned poles, a 30-day review was initiated by the MBTA to hear more comments on the project. And two weeks ago, the Massachusetts congressional delegation asked the Federal Communications Commission to “carefully” review the T’s application. 

But Marshall said the review will soon be completed. It is unknown when or if the project will come to Belmont.

Offering his opinion, Selectmen Chair Jim Williams wondered why a new installation for internet service is needed as his smart phone works just fine on the trains.

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