Mn/DOT anticipates a fee on road usage might someday be necessary as more fuel efficient and hybrid cars are on the road, decreasing revenue from the gas tax.
"This research will provide important feedback from motorists about the effectiveness of using technology in a car or truck to gather mileage information," said Cory Johnson, project manager.
"We are researching alternative financing methods today that could be used 10 or 20 years from now when the number of fuel efficient and hybrid cars increase and no longer produce enough revenue from a gas tax to build and repair roads."
Recruiting for the Minnesota Road Fee Test will begin in May, with research starting in July. Volunteers must be from Hennepin or Wright County. Drivers will be given smart phones with a GPS application that has been programmed to allow them to submit information. Volunteers will get a small stipend for expenses associated with the test.
The research is scheduled to end by December 2012.
The state of Oregon completed a similar study in November 2007. Iowa, Nevada and Texas are currently researching mileage-based user fees.
Mn/DOT says that if a mileage-based user fee were implemented, motorists would pay a fee based on how many miles they driver, rather than how much gas a vehicle uses, which is how Minnesota's gas tax is currently designed.
The Minnesota Legislature appropriated $5 million from the trunk highway fund for the demonstration in 2007.