M.E. Jones / Lowell Sun
As Ayer’s new commuter rail station parking garage takes shape, Jim Michael of RGB Architects,the project manager, oversees ongoing work at the construction site. Despite mounds of moved earth and assorted rubble around him now, Michael sees the future finished product, calling it “Ayer’s empire state building.”
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AYER — The $4.2 million parking garage under construction on Groton Street since spring, is still on track for an end-of-year completion date, Assistant Town Manager Carly Antonellis said this week.

Things might have seemed quiet during fourth-of-July week, but steady, substantial work is in progress, she said, noting the “huge crane” at the site now and that cement was being poured, right on schedule.

The long-awaited project – 20 years in the making – faced its share of hurdles along the way, from public access and land-taking issues to alternative proposals to scrap the existing plan — which in addition to the 180-space parking garage also calls for upgrades at the train station on Main Street, including public bathrooms and a raised platform for handicapped access – in favor of a location elsewhere than downtown. But town officials staunchly held out for the original idea.

Given the two-decade delay, some might have doubted the project would ever happen as envisioned.

But it’s well underway now, thanks to what one speaker at the groundbreaking ceremony in May called Ayer’s “dogged” determination.

Now, it’s moving forward according to plan, paid for in part by grants and in large part by a federal earmark dating back to the 1980’s that State Representative Sheila Harrington said was “one of the oldest” of its kind nationwide.

As each roadblock was cleared, another one seemed to queue up, but proponents continued to work toward the original goal and in the end, that determination paid off. Town Manager Robert Pontbriand summed it up at the groundbreaking. “Good things come to those who wait,” he said.

The wait will be awhile longer, but no longer than anticipated, Antonellis said, with a target completion date set for November or December this year. “We’re hoping it’s our holiday present,” she said.