Stimulating the weak economy can be a pretty rough road — especially when it costs $25 million to repave a single mile of highway.
$25 million per mile – that’s the price California’s Department of Transportation is paying to “repave 3 miles of rough pavement on Interstate 710 in Los Angeles,” according to its official description of the project. And U.S. taxpayers are footing the pricey bill.
Residents in other states also might care about the hefty price tag because the state is using money from the $787 billion stimulus bill to pay for it. It’s part of what California calls the State Highway Operation and Protection Program.
The $25 million price tag suggests the road will be paved with expensive good intentions. Caltrans officials say the stretch of 710 is heavily traveled and needs repair.
With the spiraling price of petroleum before the economic downturn, asphalt costs have increased sharply in recent years. The New York Times reported last year that in Westchester, N.J., asphalt had increased from $72 to $90 per ton.
That inflation was cited by officials there to justify repaving 12 miles of Westchester road for a princely sum of $9 million.
Caltrans estimates the material cost of asphalt concrete pavement at only about $66.21 per ton. So why would refurbishing 3 miles of roadway in Los Angeles cost taxpayers $75 million – or $25 million per mile?
Caltrans and government watchdog organizations did not immediately respond Tuesday afternoon to a Newsmax request to answer that question.
Part of the answer may be the extensive work performed during roadway rehabilitation, which goes far beyond repaving the road. Rehabilitation often involves installing new median barriers, reinforcement, and replacing old pavement with a longer-lasting version that cuts down on maintenance.
If it makes you feel better, the I-710 project is just one of 57 California transportation jobs paid for by stimulus cash. California officials are banking on receiving $2.57 billion in highway-related funds from the stimulus bill.
“This is about jobs, jobs, jobs,” says Caltrans Director Will Kempton. “We plan on . . . putting people to work as soon as possible.”
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