Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Research & Innovation

Strategic planning and priorities

Orange barrels on a highway

Research Strategic Planning and Priorities

Office of Research & Innovation Research Outcomes. 78% of funded research has impacted how MnDOT serves Minnesotans. 28% resulted in new or improved tools and softward. 22% resultd in training or knowledge-sharing tools. 21% informed a technical memo or construction specifications. 11% resulted in a new or improved MnDOT policy. 6% resulted in legisltation or response to a legislative inquiry.

Strategic planning

In response to Minnesota’s transportation trends, and the opportunities and challenges facing the state’s transportation system, the Minnesota Department of Transportation developed a five-year Research Program Strategic Plan 2017–2022 (PDF). The key recommendations from the strategic plan includes an inventory of the department’s research portfolio, refine research strategic priorities that support its vision and mission, and communicate the value of Minnesota transportation research to stakeholders.

Since 2018, Research & Innovation systematically implemented the recommendations of the Research Program Strategic Plan. These efforts included – stakeholder outreach to develop research strategic priorities, development of research project tracking system, and cultivation of a department-wide research performance and outcomes evaluation strategy.

In 2018, Research & Innovation launched the first Research Implementation and Outcomes Survey. The survey was sent out to the technical liaison for each research project completed from 2013 through 2018. This survey became part of the research outcomes evaluation process. The infographic (above) showcases the findings from the 2018 Research Implementation and Outcomes Survey.

Strategic priorities

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.

MnDOT’s Research Strategic Priorities purposefully align with the following overarching MnDOT plans:

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 projects could include multiple strategic priorities.

Innovation and future needs

In order 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 positions to lead some of that research. Additionally, participation in national research programs, pooled fund programs, and other regional research programs provide an additional opportunity for MnDOT to engage in future looking and innovative research. Such programs also offer an opportunity for MnDOT to leverage innovative and future need research in partnership of peer transportation departments.

Advancing equity

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

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.


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.

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.


Katie Fleming-Vogl
MnDOT Office of Research & Innovation