State considering replacing gas taxes with mileage-based user fees

State transportation officials are looking for new ways to fund infrastructure spending -- and they want your help.

The state's Department of Transportation is recruiting 500 drivers in Hennepin and Wright counties to travel with GPS-enabled smart phones for a "Minnesota Road Fee Test." The data will be used as state officials consider replacing gas taxes with mileage-based user fees.

Transportations officials said the state's current gas tax won't raise enough revenue to keep pace with infrastructure spending and could lead to a $50 billion funding shortfall over the next 20 years. A mileage-based user fee could help fill that gap.

"This is just one scenario that could be replacing the gas tax," said Nick Thompson, a director at MnDOT. "So what we'll do is we'll complete this study, but in the end maybe this is a system that doesn't work."

Oregon and Texas are testing similar systems, Johnson said, and several European countries already collect mileage-based fees.

Johnson said the department plans to recruit drivers on its website and by phone to provide a representative sample of drivers in the two counties.