The recent New Orleans Advocate article, “Bad streets among the top topics on minds of N.O. residents at meeting” from Aug. 19, states Mr. Landrieu said, “It costs $7 million to repair one mile of road.” Well, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, from its website article,“How Much Does It Cost To Build A Mile Of Road?,” there is no single answer to this question. Construction costs per mile of road depend on location, terrain, type of construction, number of lanes, lane width, durability, number of bridges, etc. It costs more to build a new road than to rehabilitate a road or add lanes. Roads cost more to build in urban areas than in rural areas. Roads in mountainous terrain are more expensive to build than roads on flat land.

Nonetheless, some states have developed cost models to guide planning for their highway construction programs. These models give a ballpark figure for various kinds of highway improvements. The following are some examples:

  • Construct a new 2-lane undivided road, about $2-$3 million per mile in rural areas, about $3-5 million in urban areas.
  • Construct a new 4-lane highway, $4-$6 million per mile in rural and suburban areas, $8-$10 million per mile in urban areas.
  • Construct a new 6-lane interstate highway, about $7 million per mile in rural areas, $11 million or more per mile in urban areas.
  • Mill and resurface a 4-lane road, about $1.25 million per mile.
  • Expand an interstate highway from 4 lanes to 6 lanes, about $4 million per mile.

So while it does actually cost about $8-10 million to construct a new four-lane highway in an urban area, it only costs about $1.25 million per mile to mill and resurface a four-lane road. When was the last time the City of New Orleans constructed a NEW road? When we write a check for $7 million to (‘repair’) mill and resurface a four-lane road, who is getting paid the extra $5.75 million?

Russell Counterman


New Orleans