Re: How many Shuttles could have been kept operative..
None, probably. Because of the way the shuttle program worked keeping just one orbiter operational wasn't really feasible. You either keep all of them flying or none of them flying. The cost per launch in 2011 was estimated to be roughly 450 million USD. That includes the operational cost of the entire program. If you have just one orbiter to launch you still need exactly the same hardware and nearly the same amount of personnel, but now you pay for all of that with only one third (at most) the amount of launches. Probably even fewer. So you need the entire fleet
"The Wall" might cost as much as 30 billion. For that money, theoretically, you might get another 20 to 40 launches probably.
However, the problem with the shuttles wasn't cost. Those things were dangerous and inefficient. They had MANY ways they could kill those flying it which were pretty much completely unpreventable. After Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry, the cost per launch increased tremendously and it was required to keep a second shuttle on standby just so they could use it as a lifeboat in case the first one got damaged on launch. Any further accidents would probably have resulted in significant public backlash. The STS program just wasn't viable anymore.