(a) The commissioner may set aside in each fiscal year up to two percent of the total amount of all funds appropriated to the commissioner other than county state-aid and municipal state-aid highway funds for transportation research including public and private research partnerships. The commissioner shall spend this money for (1) research to improve the design, construction, maintenance, management, and environmental compatibility of transportation systems, including research into and implementation of innovations in bridge-monitoring technology and bridge inspection technology; bridge inspection techniques and best practices; and the cost-effectiveness of deferred or lower cost highway and bridge design and maintenance activities and their impacts on long-term trunk highway costs and maintenance needs; (2) research on transportation policies that enhance energy efficiency and economic development; (3) programs for implementing and monitoring research results; and (4) development of transportation education and outreach activities.
(b) Of all funds appropriated to the commissioner other than state-aid funds, the commissioner shall spend at least 0.1 percent, but not exceeding $2,000,000 in any fiscal year, for research and related activities performed by the Center for Transportation Studies of the University of Minnesota. The center shall establish a technology transfer and training center for Minnesota transportation professionals. By June 30, 2018, the center shall conduct research on transportation policy and economic competitiveness, including, but not limited to, innovative transportation finance options and economic development, transportation impacts of industry clusters and freight, and transportation technology impacts on economic competitiveness.