Robert Puentes

Sandy Recovery: The Case for Disaster Bonds
December 10, 2012

With Patrick Sabol Super Storm Sandy wrought havoc across the East Coast, leaving behind an estimated $10 to $20 billion dollars worth of physical damage and inflicting another $30-$50 billion in economic losses.

The Big Infrastructure Question Posed by Sandy
October 31, 2012

In light of this week’s storm, one big question post-Sandy is what could have been done to prevent the devastating damage to the city of New York, its infrastructure, and its economy? Monday morning quarterbacking, for sure, but it’s the question on everyone’s mind now. And for obvious reasons, that’s tough to answer. After all, what is the proper way to prepare for a once-in-a-century event? (Whether 100-year storms now happen every year is another, but related, discussion.) In comments after the storm, New York Gov.

Promoting Infrastructure Investment through Private Activity Bonds
October 25, 2012

The federal government contributed about 25 percent of total public spending on transportation and water infrastructure over the past decade. So, for good reason, many local governments and transportation agencies are preoccupied these days with the threat of the automatic across-the-board spending cuts from Washington. Even small cuts would be painful to overstretched state and local governments already scrambling for ways to do more with less. Increased private sector involvement in U.S.

What Would an Infrastructure Bank Really Do?
July 16, 2012

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released an important analysis on the potential efficacy, need, and impact of a national infrastructure bank (NIB.) While the idea remains stuck in political and policy limbo, the report is still highly relevant. Interest in the idea remains high, helping to inform the policy innovation happening in states like New York and cities like Chicago. The CBO report is, as usual, careful and thorough. The analysts over there are super sharp and know what they're talking about especially--and obviously--when it comes to the impacts on the federal budget.

Contracting for Railcars and Jobs in Los Angeles
April 25, 2012

March’s job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were bleak. The 120,000 jobs added to the economy fell far short of the 200,000 that were expected. While the unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent, in California it remains stubbornly high at 11 percent. Against this backdrop, an interesting and complicated discussion is taking place in metropolitan Los Angeles over the best way to spend public dollars, create jobs, build needed infrastructure, while simultaneously boosting U.S.

Transformative Investments, Chicago Style
March 01, 2012

Sometimes if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. During his time as White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel was unable to push through President Obama’s proposal to establish a National Infrastructure Bank. The NIB would be a merit-driven approach for advancing a range of infrastructure projects that have the highest return on investment and support economic growth.

A Path to Public/Private Partnerships for Infrastructure
December 09, 2011

Often when making the case for U.S. infrastructure investment, someone will point overseas to Europe or Asia and wonder aloud why other countries have world-class, economy-shaping infrastructure and the United States doesn’t. There are obviously many reasons but a key problem is that, unlike other nations, the United States is still over-reliant on the public sector for delivering infrastructure projects. Today, those public resources are strained, especially for transportation projects.

Obama's Plan a Chance to Get Strategic on Infrastructure
September 09, 2011

The focus on infrastructure in President Obama’s jobs speech was much-anticipated and necessary. While much the attention is on increasing funding for fixing roads and bridges, the president also reiterated the call to improve the way the federal government invests in infrastructure. (“No more earmarks. No more boondoggles. No more bridges to nowhere.”) He also called for the kind of transformative infrastructure investments that made the U.S. an economic superpower.

Lots at Stake in Transportation Reauthorization
September 01, 2011

In the annals of Rose Garden speeches, the brief remarks by President Obama yesterday about extending the nation’s surface transportation law were, for the most part, unremarkable. He called on Congress to not let the current highway and transit authorization expire and then pressed for reforms in how we invest in transportation projects.

Apple’s Form and Function Meets Location Efficiency
June 24, 2011

with Louis Liss When it comes to design, there’s no question that Apple knows how to impress. Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently addressed the Cupertino, CA city council to pitch a new corporate campus to accommodate the company’s burgeoning workforce. The new facility will be a circular architectural wonder. It will triple green space, add needed office area, and produce its own energy. Critics have cited the new campus as a model for better architecture in Silicon Valley as well as a green marvel. But just as important as how the building is built is where it is built.