BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum announced today he has appointed Thomas Sorel, a former Minnesota Department of Transportation commissioner with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, to lead the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) starting Aug. 7.
Sorel served as Minnesota’s transportation commissioner from 2008-2012, overseeing a workforce of 5,000 employees with a $4.3 billion annual budget and a $1.4 billion annual transportation program. Prior to that, he had a 30-year career with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, serving as administrator of its St. Paul Division from 2005 to 2008 and receiving a presidential honor for his leadership related to the I-35W bridge collapse response, recovery and rebuilding.
Sorel is currently the chief operating officer of the Minnesota Trucking Association. He previously ran his own transportation consulting firm in Woodbury, Minn., and served as vice president of surface transportation for Serco North America, working on intelligent transportation systems and other areas.
“Tom Sorel has the leadership skills, strategic planning experience and innovative problem-solving skills we need to excel in a 21st-century transportation environment that is undergoing rapid change, from autonomous vehicle testing to the proliferation of ridesharing services,” Burgum said. “His leadership will ensure the North Dakota Department of Transportation continues to deliver safe, modern services and smart, efficient infrastructure as part of a multi-modal network that supports driving, public transit, biking and walking.”
Sorel earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the State University of New York in Buffalo and holds a master’s in business administration from Thomas College in Waterville, Maine. Previously, he was vice president of the Twin Cities operations of North Dakota-based engineering firm KLJ and president and CEO of AAA Minneapolis.
“I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity Gov. Burgum has given me to serve the citizens of North Dakota,” Sorel said. “I’m excited to apply my experience in the public and private sectors, taking advantage of best practices and current and emerging technologies to provide the most robust and most reliable multi-modal transportation system possible.”
Sorel succeeds former NDDOT Director Grant Levi, who retired in May after more than 37 years with the department. Ron Henke, who has served as interim NDDOT director since May, will return to his role as deputy director for engineering. The governor is grateful to both for their leadership and service.
The NDDOT has more than 1,000 employees, a two-year budget of $1.2 billion and a $465 million construction program for this season.