In the snowy mountains of Colorado, maintenance workers are filling potholes, fixing guardrails, and most importantly plowing snow.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has about 250 trucks that remove snow from 23,000 lane miles of highway. It takes 2-4 hours per day to clear the roads.
Snow plowing and other maintenance jobs are reliable trades that cities will always need. But for most employers, finding people to fill the role is the easy part — keeping the jobs filled is a lot more difficult.
Maintaining the most expensive mountain communities in Colorado comes at a cost to those requiring affordable housing. As housing costs rise throughout the U.S., it’s difficult for workers to find affordable housing in luxury communities.
“Right before they start, they tell us they can't take the job because they can't find housing,” John Lorme, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s director of maintenance and operations, said in a story from CPR News. “It's either affordability or availability depending on where you are. And sometimes it's both.”
That’s why the CDOT is short 300 maintenance workers this year. To help with this rising problem, CDOT found a permanent solution. The agency will spend up to $6.5 million on housing projects along the vital Interstate 70 corridor and in other housing-starved mountain towns.
Lorme said, “The CDOT wants to partner with other short-staffed state agencies and local governments to build micro-neighborhoods where government workers and their families could live for free, or at least at a reduced rate.”
Free and Affordable Housing for the Workforce
One of the towns that will have workforce housing is The Town of Frisco. On August 25, 2022, the town council approved the Workforce Housing Planning Agreement with CDOT.
The agreement is to develop a workforce housing project and share all costs 50/50 up to $200,000. The project will be located at 619 Granite Street, Lots 18-24, Block 12 in the Town of Frisco.
This is a great step to help support the workforce who tirelessly work to maintain the roads and community no matter the weather.
“I don't know of anybody that wants to have a long-term career living in a mobile home, living in a condo or some sort of apartment,” said Roger Rash, a Montrose County Commissioner who recently retired after more than 20 years at CDOT. “The American dream is to make enough money to own your own home. That was my dream. I worked my tail off to own my own home.”