ST. PAUL — Minnesota and seven other Midwestern states have launched a truck parking information system to help freight drivers find safe places to park, the state's department of transportation announced in a release.

The new information system, launched Friday, Jan. 4, gathers and distributes real-time parking information to electronic message signs along Interstate 35 and Interstate 94, both major freight corridors. Parking information will also be available through MnDOT's 511 app and hotline. Text and email notifications will be available mid-January, MnDOT said.

It can be tough to find places to park a semi truck, with drivers sometimes having to spend an hour or more searching for a safe spot, MnDOT said in the release. Truckers unable to find suitable parking may be forced to park in unsafe areas like the shoulder or ramp on a highway.

Funds for the system came from a $25 million federal grant in 2015. Minnesota got $1.2 million of that, and contributed an additional $177,500 in state funds.

The information system will also be available in Iowa and Wisconsin.