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

Employee Spotlight

Feb. 1, 2023 - Keeping Colorado roads open and safe takes a great deal of behind-the-scenes effort by CDOT’s Division of Maintenance and Operations (DMO).

John Lorme

We often take our transportation system for granted. We all expect the freedom to travel whenever and however we'd like on our roadways, but sometimes Mother Nature and incidents on our highways throw a wrench in our plans. 

Under the leadership of Director John Lorme, DMO maintainers work 24/7/365 to ensure our state roads are safe and 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: As I was transitioning from the US Army in 2015 after serving for 28 years, I took a chance and went to a CDOT Veteran Open House. I then started following the CDOT website, and after applying for three or four positions I was interested in, I was subsequently hired as a Maintenance Deputy Superintendent. Nine years later I have advanced to the Division of Maintenance and Operations. I have to say I landed in a great organization, with an important mission, surrounded by amazing people!

Question: What attracted you to CDOT?
Answer: After a career in the military, I knew I had to find an organization where I could continue serving. The military has an incredible mission and purpose, it turns out so does CDOT. In the end, I exchanged an army-camouflaged helmet and body armor for the iconic Omaha Orange CDOT helmet and vest.

I often tell anyone that will listen, the highway system is one of the most important things in our lives, and most people do not realize that. In fact, I believe, we often take it for granted. Everything in our lives depends on the highway system functioning properly. It makes it possible to have the freedom to prosper and allows for the movement of essential goods and services. Without it, where would we be? To be a civil servant and be responsible for something so important is awe-inspiring. I know the entire team feels this way.

Question: What is it about the Division of Maintenance and Operations in particular that you like?
Answer: This is a career with significant advancement depending on your personal effort and willingness to learn the business. I enjoy the fact that, for our maintainers, there are no typical days and the scenery changes as often as the weather conditions.

I knew I did not want to work in a traditional setting like a warehouse or office. I also like DMO because it’s challenging work. This is gritty work. This can be dangerous work. But if you have what it takes, this can be some of the best and most rewarding work of your life!

I like being around people that get after it, no matter the time of day or the conditions. I like the responsibility that this organization bestows on its maintenance and engineering staff.

Question: What is so rewarding about the work you do?
Answer: For this team, our mission matters most! Because a lot of our efforts go on overnight, the traveling public has no idea how much our crews are dedicated to their safety and mission accomplishment.

CDOT Maintainers are always on the job. No matter the weather conditions, resource constraints, hazards, or time of day. We do our best work when the public is home sound asleep. Whether it's winter operations at Rabbit Ears Pass, Vail Pass, or Wolf Creek Pass, staffing our traffic operations center 24/7,  repairing guardrails in Downtown Denver at 2 in the morning, or helping a stranded motorist, this team is on duty. Being part of this is its own reward. I’m truly humbled by the team of silent professionals in the orange helmets.  

Question: What would you like people to know about 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 the extensiveness of our responsibility, highway maintainers are currently undergoing major evolution, from a “shovel and truck” mentality to a highly skilled essential workforce.

Question: Would you encourage someone to consider a career as a highway maintainer?
Answer: Absolutely! If you want a career where everyone counts on you, if you want to be part of an amazing team, if you want to make an impact in other people’s lives - this is where you want to be! Come earn the right to wear the iconic Omaha Orange CDOT helmet and vest!