The transportation world is happy that at least SOMETHING is happening in Congress regarding long-term reauthorization of federal transportation funding. The buzz phrase is “any movement is better than no movement.”

 That’s appropriate. That’s how I feel about constipation. Any movement forward despite the non-nutritious waste matter of partisan politics is progress.

 Perhaps desperation spawns strange bedfellows, but even the often disparate worlds of academia and business seem to be building bridges (yes, I had to pun) to making the case for sensible transportation investment.

 “At this year’s Transportation Research Board, I was delighted to hear several presentations by academics about the evolving role of structural monitoring as an important component of bridge management,” says Peter Vanderzee, president and CEO of LifeSpan Technologies. “The academic community has, for many years, been focused on data saturation – the more the better – which conflicts with what we have been repeatedly told by bridge owners.  

 “For the first time in eight years, I heard a researcher say, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t put too many sensors on bridges,’” he adds.  

 United transportation advocacy is also going public. At a meeting with Paul Yarossi, current chairman of ARTBA, he noted that the group is teaming with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to lead a 50+-group coalition, "Make Transportation Job #1," which will feature aggressive ad and outreach campaigns.

 Among the goals: correct public misconceptions about transportation investment, including the gas tax, move away from the “shovel-ready” term that ARRA instigated, and help voters understand “what they’ll get” from infrastructure investment—not “what will go away,” says Yarossi, HNTB Corp.'s president.