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Infrastructure Bonds Provide Funding Option

Robert Puentes, an infrastructure expert at the Brookings Institution, said federally backed infrastructure bonds could encourage state and local governments to step into the bond market once again.

“This is kind of a way to put another package together that’s not capped, that’s maybe more open to the private sector,” he said.

The Obama administration also is working to consolidate best practices from public-private partnerships around the country to make it easier for local governments to make deals with the private sector. Much of the reluctance to these deals stems from the lack of expertise and experience in local governments, Puentes said.

At the same time, the initiative will try to reduce the bureaucratic burden by encouraging federal agencies to coordinate to speed up the legal and environmental reviews that must be completed before a project can break ground.

And the administration wants to make it possible to bundle smaller projects to create a more appealing investment for big investment funds. “There’s an insatiable demand for best practices, just to learn about the innovations that are out there,” Puentes said. “Some of this, on the federal level, is designed to kick that into gear and to get some of that lending going.”

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