The state’s plan to develop a mass transit expansion along the spine of Ga. 400 through north metro Atlanta has already become a key part of its pursuit of Amazon’s second headquarters.
The state has kept Amazon updated on the state’s $100 million down payment to build interchanges for commuter buses along the highway, along with other recent legislative votes that paved the way for transit expansions across the region.
Amazon has whittled its list of contenders for the $5 billion project to Atlanta and 19 other cities, and Georgia has prepared the most lucrative incentive package in state history to entice the online retail giant and the 50,000 high-paying jobs it promises.
The firm’s executives recently scouted several Atlanta sites, including the warren of sunken parking lots in downtown known as the Gulch. But a chunk of the company’s workforce is likely to settle in the northern suburbs, where the bus rapid transit lines could help cut commutes.
The state’s investment marks the first time Georgia has teamed with Fulton County and the MARTA system on a significant transit initiative. It also marks a sea change for state Republicans who once disdained significant funding for mass transit in Atlanta.
House Speaker David Ralston credited firms, such as Amazon, that “tell us explicitly that transit is important to world-class companies and their employees” for the policy shift.
And Gov. Nathan Deal said he hoped it would send a powerful message to the company’s executives as they narrow down their choices.
"The fact that they see good faith on the part of the state taking these kinds of moves hopefully will give them and others confidence that we’re ready to address not only the current needs of our citizens, but also those that we may anticipate in the future," he said.
Read more AJC coverage on Georgia’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters: