Research Strategic Plan and Priorities
Responding to the opportunities and challenges facing the state transportation system, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has developed a five-year Research Program Strategic Plan (2017–2022) (PDF).
Since 2018, the Office of Research & Innovation (R&I) has been systematically implementing the recommendations of the strategic plan: development of research strategic priorities, a research project tracking system, and a department-wide research performance and outcomes evaluation strategy to measure performance and communicate the value of Minnesota's transportation research to stakeholders.
In 2018, R&I conducted its first Research Implementation and Outcomes Survey, which is part of the research outcomes evaluation strategy. The technical leads of research projects completed from 2013 to 2018 were asked to report on the outcomes of those projects. The survey found that 78 percent of recently completed research has already impacted how MnDOT conducts business.
Nearly 200 MnDOT professionals and leaders participated in the Research Strategic Direction Visioning Workshops. Their input provided the framework for MnDOT’s Research Strategic Priorities, which purposefully align with the following overarching MnDOT plans: Strategic Operating Plan (PDF), 20 Year Strategic Investment Plan and Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan.
The Research Strategic Priorities do not explicitly direct the topics of research; instead, they show ways that research at MnDOT garner progress toward MnDOT’s Strategic Operating Goals and Mission (PDF). Single research projects might address multiple strategic priorities.
Advancing equity aims to recognize the role research plays in the assurance of equitable access to safe and efficient transportation systems. While research may not necessarily focus only on equity, MnDOT prioritizes research projects that advance equitable access to safe and efficient transportation systems.
Asset management research may include projects that focus on asset related data collection processes, asset related data management, measurement of asset life cycle, and life cycle costs. Such projects inform preservation of assets and are critical measurement of return on investment.
Climate change and the environment
Climate Change & Environment may manifest as research projects specific to endangered & threatened species, wetland protections, salt use and incursion, congestion impacts on air quality, and the impacts of MnDOT work on the environment.
Innovation and future needs
To better understand and meet the transportation needs of the future, MnDOT must continue to invest in future-looking research. MnDOT’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Intelligent Transportation Systems offices are positioned to lead some of this research. Regional, national and pooled fund research programs provide additional opportunities to engage in future-looking and innovative research, and leverage research funds in partnership with other states.
Safety is part of MnDOT’s Mission. This priority aims to ensure all road users have access to a safe roadway system, work zones are safe for the public and workers, and that MnDOT employees have the tools and skills to work in the safest way possible.