Meet the Crew: John Lorme, Director of the Division of Maintenance and Operations

Our Stories

John Lorme

We often take for granted our ability to travel from one place to another in this great state of ours — whether it’s a short drive to work or a weekend getaway to the mountains, but keeping Colorado roads open and safe takes a great deal of behind-the-scenes effort by CDOT’s Division of Maintenance and Operations (DMO). Under the leadership of Director John Lorme, DMO maintainers work 24/7 to ensure our state roads are drivable. We sat down with John to talk about CDOT operations and his journey to where he is today.

Question: How did you start working for CDOT?

  • Answer: I retired from the U.S. Army in 2014 after serving for 28 years in places like Fort Benning, Fort Bragg, Korea, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan, and I went to a CDOT Open House. I gave my resume to the Region 1 deputy director of maintenance and applied for a job but didn’t get it. I then started following the website, and after applying for three or four jobs, was hired as the south metro deputy superintendent in Region 1, Section 5. Now here I am today leading the Division of Maintenance and Operations.

Question: What attracted you to CDOT?

  • Answer: Coming right out of the military, I liked the idea of continually serving. I also like the fact that everybody counts on you. I don’t want to work for a company where there’s no sense of purpose. I like the responsibility that this organization bestows on its workers.

Question: What is it about the Division of Maintenance and Operations in particular that you like?

  • Answer: At CDOT, the highway maintainers are essential personnel. The highway system is one of the most important things in our lives, and most people don’t realize that. Everything in our lives depends on the highway system. It’s what brings us our food, what allows medical personnel to get to a hospital and what allows for the movement of essential goods and services. To be a civil servant and to carry that weight on your shoulders is awe-inspiring.

Question: What is so rewarding about the work you do?

  • Answer: When you work for the government, you’re not going to get rich — however, the stability is there. To be a civil servant means to sacrifice, and I wear that like a badge of honor. It builds a lot of pride when you’re considered “essential.” I look at CDOT as a family. It’s not just a collection of individuals that come to work. Every one of our maintenance patrols is a small family and they have such an awesome responsibility. There’s a sense of camaraderie. You get the ability to be part of a team that has this long-lasting effect for the betterment of everybody.

Question: What would you like people to know about the DMO?

  • Answer: Safety and mobility are CDOT’s two primary concerns, so about 2/3 of the department’s budget is spent on keeping highways open and only about 1/3 on maintaining highways. We have 1,690 maintainers who are responsible for keeping the state’s transportation system in working order. This includes more than 23,000 lane miles, nearly 3,500 bridges and more than 1,000 state buildings and structures.

    Given this breadth of responsibility, maintainers have myriad skillsets people might not know about. We have unmanned aerial vehicle operators, howitzer operators, wildland firefighters, heavy equipment operators, people trained to use remote control devices that scope tunnels and culverts and people with explosive permits that do rock blasting and scaling.

Question: Why would you encourage someone to consider a career as a highway maintainer?

  • Answer: It’s a great career for young, motivated people who are interested in going through an apprentice program to learn specific skills and grow into professional highway maintainers. We train people interested in getting a commercial driver’s license and offer salary stipends to people who learn specific skills like avalanche arsenal. CDOT just brought a simulators system online to provide equipment operator training and the agency provides college reimbursement for people earning an associate’s degree for maintenance managers at Front Range Community College.

    CDOT offers monthly stipends for workforce housing in Fairplay and Frisco, where housing availability and affordability, respectively, are barriers to people wanting to live and work in these communities. I want to hire to retire. I want to hire someone, grow them, build them, put them out on the highway and make them a great maintainer. I want them to stay here and eventually be running the company.