Where would we be without the great American highway? Our road systems span the length and breadth of the country, getting us to work, reuniting us with friends and family, and quite literally expanding our horizons.
Whether you are driving on an open road that stretches for miles, or stuck in traffic going nowhere, every single one of the roads and highways you drive on requires routine construction and maintenance. When it comes to financing and planning these projects, each state has a responsibility to contribute towards road construction and road maintenance costs and will employ its own objectives and approach.
If you are curious to know how much your state is contributing to maintain the road systems within its borders, this list gives an overview of construction costs per lane mile for every state in the country, and is sorted by largest to smallest contribution.
New Jersey: $53,850
Rhode Island: $40,212
New York: $26,635
North Carolina: $19,429
New Hampshire: $16,010
New Mexico: $13,582
South Carolina: $11,121
North Dakota: $6,237
South Dakota: $5,018
How Road Maintenance Costs Are Calculated
As you can see from the list above, Delaware’s road maintenance costs far outweigh those of South Dakota, but how are these costs calculated? Well, the Cost Per Lane Mile is worked out by dividing construction engineering, preliminary right-of-way acquisition and annual highway construction costs by total lane miles for each state or every year between the years 1984 and 2014. These values were then averaged to give a final cost per lane mile. The national average for road maintenance costs was $18,668. You can find out more information about these calculations by accessing this report
published in 2017.
What Determines the Cost of Construction and Maintenance?
There are a number of variables that determine road maintenance costs in each state. This may include population density, geography or design standards. While there are clear patterns that are linked to high density or urban regions, other factors can also dictate a higher cost. For example, the hourly wages of highway maintenance workers and operating engineers can push costs higher in some states than others. Extreme weather conditions, heavy traffic loads and popular trucking routes can also drive up costs.
The Tax Dollar Split
Governments currently spend more non-user tax dollars on highways than they do on walking, cycling, transit and passenger rail travel combined. These costs will continue to be present for as long as we use our road systems, and will continue to increase as more and more vehicles use the roads, and more roads are constructed to meet demand.
Of course, it is the U.S. taxpayer who must also bear the cost of maintaining America’s highway systems. Aside from taxes on gas, the average costs per household per year for road construction and repair is estimated at $597.
Last modified: April 2, 2018