AYER -- Long-awaited improvements to parking and access to the commuter rail platform are one step closer to completion.
Selectmen chose a concept design for Depot Square on Sept. 19.
The concept shows a vehicle turn-around area. Traffic is routed around a rain garden, which provides drainage for the paved area.
An adjacent area with restores, sheltered seating areas, and trees and other plantings is located on the footprint of a building that is scheduled to be torn down. An historic water basin will be returned to this pedestrian area and a railroad heritage sculpture is planned.
"The envisioned new Depot Square Park will resurrect Downtown Ayer's Depot Square to once again live as our civic, social and commercial focal point," Alan S. Manoian, the director of community and economic development, wrote in an email.
There will be easy access for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public shuttles to the rail platform, he wrote.
Both areas are between Main Street and tracks, just east of Park Street. The existing parking lot on the other side of Main Street will be expanded by adding a deck.
The building in Depot Square and land accessing the commuter rail platform was taken by the town through eminent domain in 2016. More than $3 million in federal funds earmarked in 1988 for the improvements could not be used until the access was publicly owned.
The final project is budgeted at $4.1 million.
Bringing the concept design to the final design phase includes meetings with the Department of Public Works, said Carly Antonellis, assistant to the town administrator.
Construction should go out to bid in early 2018, according to an earlier statement by MART Administrator Mohammed Khan. The Montachusett Area Regional Transit Authority is managing the project.
Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.