An efficient and forward-looking transportation system is critical for the economic vitality of the state and the region. Financing the system, however, is an ongoing challenge. Major studies and initiatives indicate that current revenues will not be adequate to maximize transportation's benefits to Minnesota's economy.

TPEC work in this area:

  • Identifies and develops sustainable revenue streams to meet capital and maintenance costs.
  • Provides finance data and decision-making tools for policymakers.

Road Free Test

Minnesota Transportation Finance Database

TPEC researchers created the Minnesota Transportation Finance Database to provide a comprehensive, objective source of transportation finance information. It serves as a solid foundation for understanding transportation finance issues in Minnesota and for promoting informed decision making.

Value pricing

Value pricing, also known as congestion pricing and peak period pricing, is the policy of charging drivers on a congested roadway a fee that varies with the level of usage. The purpose of the policy is to allocate scarce roadway space in an economically efficient manner.

Value pricing exists in Minnesota in the form of the MnPASS lanes. These lanes incorporate pricing by offering opportunities to single-occupant vehicles to use high-occupant vehicle lanes by paying a toll that varies with congestion.

Based in part on a planning study conducted by TPEC researchers, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) extended MnPASS Express Lanes on Interstate 35E in the northeast Twin Cities. Researchers also engaged community stakeholders and corridor users to gather feedback about alternatives for the MnPASS extension and worked to illustrate options that could facilitate greater transit, carpool, and vanpool use in communities along this section of I-35E.

Value capture

Transportation creates economic value through the access it provides. In most cases, landowners receive this value. A number of mechanisms exist that can "capture" a fraction of that increased value for public organizations to fund transportation infrastructure.

Local agencies in particular need a way to demonstrate the value of transportation investment by showing its impact on economic development. To accomplish this goal, TPEC researchers conducted research to quantify the relationship between transportation investment and economic development, represented by the effect of investment on a county’s property tax base. According to the findings, long-term accumulated investments in both local roads and trunk highways have positive returns, though the two types of roads affect regions differently.

Public-private partnerships

Public-private partnerships—known as P3s or PPPs—have gained considerable attention and interest as a means of saving public funding. Methods include:

  • Using private capital investment for transportation infrastructure
  • Saving time by expediting project delivery
  • Allocating some of the risk of infrastructure investments to the private sector

While PPPs have been advocated as a critical component of transportation finance and project development, political and institutional challenges make the policy acceptance and implementation of PPPs difficult. TPEC researchers engaged Minnesota political leaders, transportation professionals, and public stakeholders in a task force to examine the potential for expanding the use of PPPs in Minnesota and to recommend strategies and steps for implementation.

Completed research