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Optical backbone networks are becoming increasingly intelligent and flexible. These networks are able to establish high-bandwidth wavelength connections on-demand to support future network-centric applications. Choosing an efficient path in a timely manner, while considering important criteria such as operation costs and network performance, is a key problem confronting the network operators. Subtle path preferences of different dynamic routing algorithms (which are usually ignored by traditional analysis techniques) can make a significant difference in performance on mesh networks. It opens new research to advance routing algorithms in both analysis and implementation paradigms. In this paper, we propose an opportunity cost model that provides fast and accurate analysis for threshold-based online congestion-aware routing algorithms. The model is simple to compute, robust to different network topologies, and scalable. We show that our model further aids in the design of a number of new routing algorithms that can be easily applied to practical networks. In contrast to previous work, the optimal threshold values for our algorithms can be identified analytically, and the values sustain good performance on different network topologies and sizes.