Less than 50 days until the first predicted snowfall - CDOT’s ready, are you?

News Release

August 31, 2023 - Statewide - CDOT’s Division of Maintenance and Operations is ready to tackle what lies ahead this winter season

Statewide - As Coloradans and visitors enjoy the hot, summer weather, the Colorado Department of Transportation has its eye on the upcoming winter season. In fact, CDOT has been preparing for the first snowflake to hit the ground this fall since the last flake fell this past spring. According to National Weather Service data, the mean average (compared to recent years) of when Colorado will see its first snow this season is Oct. 19. The Farmer’s Almanac is also predicting a winter season that will bring heavy snow and below average temperatures.

CDOT, like many industries last year, saw an increase in vacant positions compared to previous years and knew that it needed to implement an aggressive strategy to counteract sparse resources heading into the 2022/2023 winter season. Safety of the traveling public requires a no-fail mission, which is why CDOT devised innovative plans to recruit, retain, and train professional highway maintainers and found solutions to maintain operations and travel on the state’s roads despite daunting challenges.

“We experienced a brutal winter season last year that required around the clock operations to keep the state’s roadways open,” said CDOT’s Division of Maintenance and Operations Director John Lorme. “CDOT took an all-hands-on deck approach last season including rotating crews to address roadways that were being highly impacted by adverse conditions, provided updated and increased housing stipends and workforce housing in some of Colorado’s most sought after locations and grew CDOT’s Commercial Driver’s License training program. We are building off of the successes we saw last year and doubling down on our efforts this upcoming winter season. We have a dedicated and hardworking group of maintainers that are always on the job no matter the weather conditions, resource constraints, hazards, or time of day.”

CDOT’s strategies last season helped reduce the number of road closures by 9% compared to the previous year, a feat many would not have thought possible given the Department’s decreased workforce.

“What we do is tough work,” said Lorme. “It’s gritty and not for the faint of heart. I was not surprised by the successes and triumphs we saw last season. Our men and women come to work every day ready to serve the people of Colorado and their communities. Our crews have a good enough is not ‘good enough’ mentality and strive to accomplish the impossible. I’m truly humbled by our incredible team of highway maintainers. Our team keeps pulling through even when the going gets tough and aren’t afraid to go outside of their maintenance areas to help their other brothers and sisters from across the state get the job done and protect travelers. It’s incredible and we continue to advance as an agency thanks in large part to their dedication and vision. We plan to keep building off of the momentum from last year to have yet another successful winter season.”

The Division of Maintenance and Operations (DMO) team has been hard at work since last winter building up a strong workforce, updating equipment, advancing CDOT’s training efforts, increasing salaries and constructing employee housing. Through these efforts, CDOT has also significantly reduced its vacancy numbers and continues to recruit passionate and hardworking maintainers. Below are ways that CDOT has been preparing for the upcoming winter season, ensuring traveler safety and strengthening the DMO team and assets.


CDOT implemented a robust recruitment strategy in order to recruit and retain highway maintainers. Through these extensive efforts, CDOT was able to drop its maintenance and operations vacancy rate from 37% (Aug. 2022) to 18% (May 2023).

  • Heavy push on recruitment
    • CDOT’s Human Resources Department has attended nearly 40 career fairs across the state in 2023 including the Statewide Roadeo. Rapid hire programs were also conducted at CDOT career fairs.
    • CDOT continues to increase salaries of its highway maintainers, in addition to providing many benefits that come with working for the state. Over the past 3 years, employees have received a 3% raise each year and CDOT has increased its first year wages by an additional 7.5% for its core maintenance positions. For entry level maintenance positions, starting pay has also increased by 2.5% with a 5% training pay increase in the first year.
Participants in line for registration at the 2023 State Truck Roadeo in Craig, Colorado
Aug. 30, 2023 - CDOT hosts regional Truck Roadeos in the spring and summer each year where maintenance employees compete against one another by taking a written exam, performing a pre-trip vehicle inspection and then testing their skills on the tandem, motor grader, loader and skidsteer. The top first and second place winners from each region then attend the annual State Truck Roadeo to compete against all the winners from CDOT around the state. This year, the State Truck Roadeo was open to the public to learn more about job opportunities and see CDOT crews in action.

  • Housing stipends/workforce housing update
    • Because of CDOT’s no-fail mission, housing programs have become a major part of CDOT’s employment and retention strategy. To help retain and recruit highway maintainers in high-cost areas, CDOT has been providing housing stipends for selected areas in the state since 2018. In light of changes in the past few years, CDOT has just completed a comprehensive new analysis of market conditions, which has supported a recent decision to extend stipends to a broader range of geographic areas. Stipends are up to $2000 monthly, based on the essential employees’ work location.
    • Although housing stipends further the ability for employees to continue to rent or buy houses where they live and work, Colorado still continues to lack an inventory of homes that the stipend cannot address. As a result, CDOT is building new workforce housing that will allow essential employees to live within 30 minutes of their assigned duty area. Following a pilot project to add workforce housing in Glenwood Springs, upcoming capital projects are underway in Frisco and Fairplay, both broke ground in the spring and summer of 2023 and then Basalt, Gypsum and as part of a broader state effort at Dowd Junction.


CDOT has established a Maintenance Training Academy which offers over a dozen training courses that help to advance its highway maintainers’ careers and better serve the public. Below are a few training courses that directly benefit the traveling public during the winter season.

  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program
    • CDOT provides free CDL training for those interested in becoming Snow Plow and Heavy Equipment Operators. CDOT’s goal is to reduce barriers, such as cost, to attract skilled employees looking for meaningful careers. CDOT’s CDL Training Academy teaches students all the skills needed – and then some – to operate commercial vehicles effectively and manage situations they will encounter on the road.
    • From March 2022 to April 2023 over 200 plow operators went through CDL training with a 90% retention rate.
  • Avalanche training
    • Train the Trainer on Howitzer equipment hosted in June - 10 crew members completed the training.
    • General Explosives training hosted in August - 80 crew members completed the training.
    • Artillery School will be held in September and will train 55 crew members.
    • CDOT and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center have 80 Type I Explosive license holders across the state ready to take on another avalanche season.

For additional information about CDOT’s maintenance and operations training programs visit codot.gov/programs/dmo/cdots-division-of-maintenance-operations-training-academy.

Updated equipment/innovations

  • Improving lighting standards
    • Adding wing lights - CDOT has added “wing lights” to plow blades to prevent right-side passing impacts. These lights will help to not only protect CDOT equipment, but also the traveling public and prevent road closures.
  • Synched lighting
    • CDOT has invested in a unified lighting function and will begin phasing this technology into its entire fleet of maintenance vehicles and equipment over the next couple of seasons. Synch-equipped emergency vehicles will automatically flash in tandem to deliver a clear, safe and unified message to motorists. The Colorado State Patrol is also phasing the lighting function into patrol vehicles that will be capable of synching with CDOT’s lights should there be a traffic incident the two entities are responding to.
  • Reflective emergency graphics
    • Diagonal chevron graphics drive the eye toward important identifying information on the vehicle. All CDOT vehicles will feature updated diagonal graphics with retroreflective material to improve visibility and prevent crashes.
  • Improving efficiencies
    • CDOT continues to provide state-of-the-art equipment to improve efficiencies, by adding more tow plows to the fleet and replacing older plows with new tandem winged plows. These plows can carry up to twice as much snow per load to increase the efficiency of every ride.
  • New avalanche equipment
    • In July 2023, CDOT began the installation of O’bellx and Gazex fixed avalanche control systems, including concrete bases, at three slide paths north of the Red Mountain Pass summit. The system, the first to be installed on any US 550 pass, will provide more efficient avalanche control, making the area safer for CDOT crews and the traveling public. This remote system is also more reliable and safer for CDOT personnel to operate.
CDOT crews transporting drilling equipment and other supplies/materials to slide paths on Red Mountain Pass.
July 2023 - CDOT crews transporting drilling equipment and other supplies/materials to slide paths on Red Mountain Pass.

Fortifying Strong Partnerships

CDOT continues to meet and strategize with its First Responder partners. In early October, CDOT will be hosting a Traffic Incident Management conference that will work to ensure that all entities are using the same techniques when it comes to addressing incidents on the roadways. CDOT is having ongoing weather updates and discussions with the Colorado State Patrol, National Weather Service, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center, which allows the partners to be proactive and coordinated in case of an emergency on the roadway. CDOT will also be meeting with CSP and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to conduct a pre-winter synch in early October to discuss available resources during the upcoming winter season and how all agencies can help support each other.

Avalanche Team

CDOT safely conducted/triggered 488 avalanches in highway paths during the 2022/2023 winter season of which 203 hit the road. The CDOT Avalanche Safety Program prepares for every winter as if it is going to be a heavy snow season. The team does not let subjective forecasts dictate the agency's preparedness. CDOT is prepared for whatever weather conditions come its way. Prior to the winter season, the avalanche team has:

  • 80 CDOT and CAIC crew members. CSP is also invited to an upcoming Avalanche Safety Barn training in November.
  • Inspected CDOT-owned avalanche equipment across the state to ensure its functionality prior to the winter season.

Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels Operations Center Upgrade

CDOT is working to modernize its technology at its Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels Operations Center that is over 40-years-old. The new technology will improve traffic flows and responses to any incidents within the tunnels. In addition to the new Operations Center, CDOT is constructing a new maintenance facility that will house equipment and protect it from the elements. This new facility helps to better serve the public by having snow fighting equipment on-hand and ready to clear Interstate 70. The new facilities will be complete by fall 2023.

CDOT Deputy Director of Operations Bob Fifer providing a tour of the new Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels Operations Center.
August 2023 - CDOT Deputy Director of Operations Bob Fifer providing a tour of the new Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels Operations Center.

Incident Response Team

CDOT’s Incident Response team helps remove incidents from Colorado’s highways and quickly restore safe travel operations. The team responded to 11,863 incidents in the 2022/2023 winter season. The Incident Response team is there to help keep motorists and first responders safe. CDOT urges motorists to please abide by the newly enacted Move Over or Slow Down law, which requires a motor vehicle driver to move to one lane apart from a stationary motor vehicle when the stationary motor vehicle has its hazard lights activated. If a driver cannot move to be one lane apart from the stationary motor vehicle, the driver must slow down and drive at a safe speed.

CDOT's Incident Response Team responds to fires, crashes, blizzards...they do it all.

Gearing up the deicers/anti-icers

  • CDOT maintainers spent July stockpiling maintenance sheds and filling tanks with de-icers. Crews also made salt brine in house. Brine is a liquid solution used to pre-treat roadways before winter weather and prevent ice from bonding to the road surface.
  • CDOT has 750,000 gallon storage capacity spread out over 200 maintenance patrol facilities that will hold all necessary products that will help keep Colorado highways and interstates clear.
Crews stacking winter materials, solid de-icers
Crews stacking winter materials (solid de-icers); this is happening across the state in over 200 maintenance sites.


Motorists are encouraged to use COtrip.org and/or the COtrip Planner app this season to stay in the know about road conditions and closures. The more the public stays informed about what is happening on state highways and interstates, the more they can plan their trip ahead of time or delay travel until conditions improve. COtrip.org and the COtrip Planner app include the following features:

  • Traveler Information & Layers
    • The COtrip website is powered by a dynamic Google Map™. Motorists can use the map as they would any Google map and click on the icons for more information. Icons are displayed on the map by checking or unchecking the boxes in the layers toolbar. Layers available and what data they provide are described here.
  • Trucker’s Layers
    • The Trucker Mode features resources specific to commercial motor vehicle operators, including the following layers defined here - How to Access Trucker Information.
  • My COtrip & Travel Alerts
  • 511 Telephone Service
    • The 511 telephone service is an interactive, voice-activated traffic information system motorists can access by calling 511 (within Colorado) or 1-800-288-1047 (nationwide). This system has not changed, and will continue to provide a real-time option for travelers to get road conditions and traffic information. Learn more about 511 and how to use this service here.

The COtrip Planner mobile app was designed to meet the growing trend of information on mobile and tablet devices for the traveling public. The COtrip Planner app provides statewide, real-time traffic information, and works on smartphones and tablets that operate on iOS and Android platforms.

What CDOT Asks of Motorists

CDOT’s DMO has a lot of tools in its toolbox to make this a successful winter season, but crews are not alone in the effort to keep our highways safe. Motorists also need to ensure they are properly prepared for snow and ice conditions. More often than not, crashes during snow events are caused by motorists who were not prepared or driving for the conditions. Motorists are encouraged to stay ‘Winter Wise’ and consider following the winter preparedness list detailed via this link.

CDOT’s Division of Maintenance and Operations does more than you think. To learn more about DMO visit codot.gov/programs/dmo.

About CDOT’s Division of Maintenance and Operations

The vision of the Division of Maintenance & Operations (DMO) is to create one integrated division. The division focus is on real-time maintenance and operations services, as well as near-term improvement projects. We can best support the crucial work of our five CDOT regions. Our support helps to provide the optimal service and safety for the traveling public in Colorado. CDOT’s DMO - we do more than you think.