Bid for Amazon may increase funding for transit spending - CBS46 News

Bid for Amazon may increase funding for transit spending

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File photo of MARTA train (Source: WGCL) File photo of MARTA train (Source: WGCL)

Georgia's efforts to land a new headquarters for tech giant Amazon could change the public transit landscape in metro Atlanta. It is something that decades of riders could not do.

The change of heart seems based on a simple enough idea -- competition.

Who knew it would take Amazon to change Georgia's "just say no" attitude? Clearly the idea of getting left behind in a hunt for new businesses is a stop sign for lawmakers.

The fortunes of transit are rising in metro Atlanta and the rest of Georgia.

For the first time in recent memory, wheels are in motion for state and local lawmakers to talk about significant state dollars for transit.

One unmistakable symbol? A MARTA station in the very basement of the Atlanta Regional Commission headquarters.

Doug Hooker heads the regional planning agency for the 10 metro counties. He says Georgia ranks 45th in spending.

"We are significantly below our most direct competitors, and that's what I think you want to keep in mind the most," said Hooker.

The Georgia Department of Transportation says traffic will grow by 144 percent in the next four years. That's one and a half more cars for every can on I-75 today.

GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry says Georgia is the number one state to do business for the fourth year in a row.

"[It] gives them a different awareness that they haven't had in many years," he said.

Buses bring public transit to Gwinnett County, not MARTA. But Amazon may help Gwinnett Commission Chair Charlotte Nash move voters to support MARTA.

"Anything that becomes an object lesson can help solidify conversations," said Nash. "That may be what we're seeing with Amazon announcement."

Georgia's bid is expected next week.

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