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Minnesota's Cold Weather Road Research Facility

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History of MnROAD


MnROAD Development


In the 1980s, the Minnesota Department of Transportation explored the idea of a Cold Regions Pavement Research Test Facility. This led to a task force that consisted of MnDOT engineers and officials, Federal Highway Administration and Strategic Highway Research Program administrators, representatives of industry, and experts from universities.


In May 1987, the task force developed proposed interstate and low-volume test section plans. With the assistance of Dr. Witczak and MnDOT engineers, fourteen original research objectives were developed.


MnROAD was constructed in 1994 at a cost of $25 million funded by state and federal sources. A partnership between Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board provided the majority of the operations funding for the first ten years. Over the years researchers from around the nation and the world have utilized the MnROAD facilities and data.


Phase Two: Increased partnerships


By 2003 many of the studies were completed and planning for the next phase of MnROAD began.

MnROAD phase two includes reconstructing over 30 of the original test cells, instrumenting and developing a testing and data collection plan, and initiating the initial research projects that will use the test cells.


The Transportation Engineering and Road Research Alliance was formed to provide governance and for the use of partnerships for MnROAD funding and research. TERRA partners private industry and academia with national, state, and local road authorities. A task force of government, industry, and academic representatives investigated road research governing structures and evaluated ways to broaden the use of the unique MnROAD research facility.


In 2005 TERRA prioritized a set of research ideas and initiated pooled fund research projects to address those that had interest from other states. Other priorities are being addressed through partnership projects and MnDOT initiatives.