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Take, for example, road surfacing. You can use gravel, which requires multiple maintenance visits per year to remain functional and definitely has knock-on costs in terms of car damage and such.

Or you can upgrade to asphalt - lasts much longer, much lower maintenance in terms of required manpower and visits to remain functional, etc.

Or, if you want to go the whole way, you can use reinforced concrete or a slab paver setup, they will last ~30-50 years depending largely on traffic (asphalt tends to degrade even with little traffic).

That's what I mean. It's about a 3x initial cost difference between each of the tiers, but your long term maintenance costs go down the more you spend. It's not a strict one-to-one, but still.

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