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, industry representatives and university experts.
In May 1987, the task force developed proposed interstate and low-volume test section plans. With the assistance of Dr. Matt Witczak and MnDOT engineers, fourteen original research objectives were developed.
MnROAD was constructed from 1990 through 1993 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.