BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today announced the retirement of North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) Director Tom Sorel, thanking him for his leadership in launching the Vision Zero traffic safety initiative, planning for future transportation needs and adopting innovative technologies to improve services.
Sorel informed the governor today of his resignation, citing family reasons. His last day as NDDOT director will be April 26.
“Tom’s outstanding leadership on strategic planning and embracing technology to improve customer service has left the North Dakota Department of Transportation well-positioned to excel in today’s rapidly changing transportation environment,” Burgum said. “We are deeply grateful for his service and wish him all the best in retirement.”
Burgum appointed Sorel as NDDOT director effective Aug. 7, 2017. Sorel previously had served as chief operating officer of the Minnesota Trucking Association and as Minnesota’s transportation commissioner from 2008-2012. Prior to that, he had a 30-year career with the Federal Highway Administration, serving as administrator of its St. Paul Division from 2005 to 2008.
Sorel, who has maintained a residence in the Twin Cities and has a son entering his senior year of high school there, said it’s with mixed emotions that he’s retiring from public service.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as director. The NDDOT is a wonderful place to work with a team that is second to none, and I’ve always felt a deep sense of pride here,” Sorel said. “I want to thank Gov. Burgum, his administration and the entire NDDOT team for their commitment to using the best practices and technologies available to provide the safest, most robust transportation system possible for North Dakota citizens.”
Ron Henke, NDDOT’s deputy director for engineering, will serve as interim director until a permanent director is named. Henke also served as interim director after former director Grant Levi retired in 2017.
During his time as director, Sorel helped lead the January 2018 launch and implementation of Vision Zero, a comprehensive, multi-agency effort between the NDDOT, North Dakota Highway Patrol and North Dakota Department of Health with the goal of continually working toward zero motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads. The state saw motor vehicle fatalities decrease last year to their lowest level since 2008.
Under Sorel’s leadership, the NDDOT also implemented kiosk service for renewing motor vehicle tabs at several locations across the state, a Track-A-Plow pilot project for tracking snowplow locations, and has led development of the NDDOT Statewide Active and Public Transportation Plan, better known as ND Moves.