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For MARTA, Atlanta Beltline, a TSPLOST-boosted future is looking bright

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Officials promise that $2.8 billion is coming for a more livable, functional Atlanta

Regardless of political stance, Atlantans can take heart in two new realities on this first day of a post-Election 2016 world: The months and months of presidential mudslinging are (probably) over, and two lifelines of Atlanta’s future — MARTA and the Beltline — were just awarded historic pay raises.

When the TSPLOST of 2012 was proposed as a (doomed) 10-county transportation fix, it went down in flames. For observers who watched with crossed fingers, it’s somewhat painful to recall, but 70 percent of voters said hell-to-the-naw.

Last night, voters across Atlanta chose to go it alone (federal contributions notwithstanding) by roughly the same margins. On the two most closely watched TSPLOST ballot questions, people spoke as follows:

That’s a pretty bold statement.

It prompted reactions like this (below) from historically cash-strapped MARTA, which is famously underfed by state coffers. The approved, half-cent MARTA sales tax is expected to generate $2.5 billion for new train stations and other services (plus expanded streetcar routes and light-rail on the Beltline) over the next four decades.

The second. .4-percent TSPLOST will last up to five years. From that pot, expect new parks, better sidewalks, more bike lanes and — crucially — the $66-million purchase of remaining right-of-way around the entire 22-mile Beltline oval.

Keep in mind that voters last year approved a $250 million Renew Atlanta infrastructure bond to address everything from new bridges to public art. City leaders have called the collective tax boosts a “generational opportunity.”

The eventual total of $2.8 billion positions Atlanta among the top of U.S. peers when it comes to infrastructural and transportation investment, officials have said.

Yeah, Atlanta.

Where exactly will changes happen? Here’s an interactive map for MARTA’s tax-fed plans. And here’s what’s in store for projects funded by the shorter-term TSPLOST, as seen below:

Officials have said the MARTA tax goes into effect on Jan. 1, while the second tax increase will begin in April. Meanwhile, community outreach efforts to determine a concrete list of projects, in addition to engineering and environment studies, are expected to begin immediately.

So let’s get to work.