Valuable Municipal Infrastructure

I have been becoming more and more interested in the cash value of our local roads, storm sewers, sanitary sewers, and water supply systems.  This infrastructure is a huge asset owned and managed by local government.  Infrastructure represent a significant chunk of our communities value and consumes a big chunk of our communities resources to maintain.


As a quick example,

My house is on a cul-de-sac that is about 800 feet long and 32 feet wide with concrete curb and gutter and 5 feet wide sidewalks.  It is fair to say this road would cost over $150 per foot to build today.  That means the road in front of my house had an initial value of about $120,000.

Typical suburban municipalities with about 15,000 residents might have 70 miles of local roadway.  Those 70 miles are worth over $55 MILLION.  Does that mean each home owner owns about $12,500 worth of roadway?!

The surface area of my road is about 3,000 square yards.  Each time the road needs to be resurfaced a contractor grinds off and replaces about an inch of pavement.  That is about 200 tons of grindings hauled off and 200 tons of new asphalt concrete placed for a cost of about $25,000.  Most people would like to have their roads resurfaced every 10 to 15 years.

My cul-de-sac serves 9 homes.  So the road cost about $13,300 per home to build and costs about an average of $225 per home each year just to keep the pavement surface in decent shape.  That doesn’t include storm sewer maintenance, maintaining signs and lighting, the electric cost of lighting, road cleaning, snow plowing, pavement patching, fixing broken curb and sidewalk, or any major repairs.

To put this in perspective, the municipality I live in has a tax levy that represents about 5.5% of the total yearly property tax bill.  That is $550 per year for a $10,000 tax bill.  So, the municipality would have to use a little less than 1/2 of the total property tax I pay each year just to keep the pavement surface in front of my house in “good shape”.  Can you say, “Not going to happen”?


About Mike Gingerich

Engineer Writer Lecturer
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