Cost To Drive Takes A Dive In September

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The price of a gallon of gasoline fell once again during the past week, with the average U.S.  price falling another 7¢ during the last week of September, according to the latest gas price survey from the Energy Information Administration.

The EIA report was released Monday,  before the U.S. government shutdown took effect at midnight. The report shows the price of gas was down in all regions of the United States, with drivers in the Midwestern U.S. enjoying the biggest price breaks. On average, Midwest fuel is down by nearly 11¢ per gallon in most places, which brings additional relief to a region stricken by unusually high prices during the summer.

September 2013 Gas Price Comparison
Gas finally fell nearly consistently through September, which was good news following the volatile price market in August.

The price of gas dropped an average of 18¢ per gallon, overall, in the United States during September, ending the summer in exactly the opposite fashion to the start of the season, when supply issues and refinery problems pushed prices higher. The price of regular unleaded started September around $3.61 per gallon, which was the U.S. average on September 2. The month closed with the price down to only $3.43 per gallon, but prices were much lower across the Lower Atlantic and Midwest states. For the latter two regions, the price of fuel plunged an average of 30¢ per gallon, or just about 9-percent.

California drivers are not getting much gas price relief, however. The price of fuels in California is up for the month of September, which dragged the entire West Coast average higher for the month. When one takes California out of the equation, the price of gasoline on the West Coast still only declined by about a nickel per gallon, far less than most other regions.

The Rocky Mountain states fared only slightly better, with the cost of a gallon of gas dipping by about 8¢ per gallon, significantly less than the U.S. average and only about 25% of the decline enjoyed by many drivers in the nation’s mid-section.

For truckers, the price of gas was also down this week, according to the EIA survey report. The average price of a gallon of diesel was down by about 3¢ per gallon in nearly all regions, except the Rocky Mountain states, where the price dropped by only about a penny in most areas. The cost of operating a tractor-trailor rig is lower, however, than at this time last year.

Nationwide, the cost of a  gallon of diesel is down by about 16¢ from the 2012 level, with prices dopwn by as much as a quarter per gallon on the West Coast and nearly 30¢ per gallon in the Rocky Mountain states.



Major Turnpike Construction Projects Greet Florida’s Seasonal Visitors

Orlando and Fort Lauderdale Interchanges Undergoing Major Overhauls As Tourist Season Welcomes First Travelers

This year’s increase in seasonal tourism traffic may be accompanied by an increase in driver frustration as a pair of major road reconstruction projects impact upon turnpike interchanges in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. The Florida Department of Transportation has been overhauling the I-595 corridor through Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Plantation and Sunrise since approximately November 2010. The project includes a complete reworking of the interchange with Florida’s Turnpike, with the bulk of construction work scheduled to be completed by March 2014, although work is currently ahead of schedule, according to a project construction chart.

Meanwhile, lane additions and other construction has just begun in Orlando, where Florida’s Turnpike meets with I-4, just south of the East-West Expressway. The $10.2-million project at the Turnpike I-4 interchange began September 12, and it will not be completed until the fall of 2014, although a more specific date has not been provided.

Drivers making their way through Orlando or traveling there as a destination will find exit and entrance ramps to I-4 being widened and realigned to handle more capacity. The construction effort also seeks to help increase capacity for truckers who make use of the interchange to access the Turkey Lake Service Plaza.

“The realignment of the southbound exit ramp improves traffic flow on the connector road to the Tandem Truck Stagin Lot located behind the northbound toll plaza building,” a DOT news release read. “The project includes an additional heavy truck turnaround at the south end of the Turkey Lake Service Plaza and new signage.”

I-595 construction near Florida's Turnpike
Construction of the Florida’s Turnpike I-595 Interchange in the Fort Lauderdale-Davie area is within months of completion. Additional constructions delays may affect seasonal travelers, nonetheless.

While the spate of lane closures and roadway detours is just beginning for Orlando, they are nearly completed for Fort Lauderdale’s Turnpike I-595 interchange. Overnight lane closures on the Turnpike, between I-595 and Sunrise Boulevard, were expected to be completed by the end of the week, this week. Ramp closures from State Road 84 and I-595 to the Turnpike were also expected to persist for a few more overnight hours, wrapping by September 27, according to a special website set up by Florida DOT to provide construction updates.

Meanwhile, toll lanes continue to be closed on an intermittent basis in Miami-Dade County, where the all-electronic tolling booths are being built to replace the once-staffed toll collection booths. The closure of lanes chokes the traffic flow into the Golden Glades Interchange, which connects the Florida’s Turnpike with I-95 and the Palmetto Expressway (SR 826). The interchange also allows drivers to exit to U.S. 441 and NE 167th Street in North Miami Beach.

The toll lane closures are expected to end by January 2014, around the start of peak seasonal tourism in Florida, but the short term outlook is one of slow traffic going into the Golden Glades. Only four toll lanes are currently open for northbound traffic leaving Miami, and five lanes are currently opened for southbound traffic making its way from Broward County into Miami-Dade.

The widening of the Turnpike Extension in Miami-Dade County is also now underway, having broken ground in August 2013. The southern stretch of the Homestead Extension of the Turnpike will be widened to a minimum of six travel lanes in some areas, and as many as 10 travel lanes in other segments. The construction will affect the areas through Goulds and Cutler Ridge, from around SW 216th Street, north to Eureka Drive, which is also SW 184th Street.

The project, which is expected to cost about $41-million, will take about three years to complete.

Gas Prices Tumble As Autumn Officially Begins

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Gas prices have taken a tumble in recent days as the fall driving season sets in and concerns about the situation in Syria have been met with potential détente, and further supplanted by worries about a possible government shutdown October 1. The average price of a gallon of unleaded gas fell by more than a nickel during the past week, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA’s weekly report shows the biggest drop in gas prices came in the Central and Lower Atlantic states, where prices were down by about 8¢ per gallon. The lowest price declines were found on the West Coast, where the average cost of a gallon of gas was flat. In some areas, the cost of gas did edge downward about a penny.

For truckers and drivers of other diesel cars, the price of fuel was also down. The average price of diesel fuel was off by about 3¢ per gallon during the past week, although prices in the Rocky Mountain region were up slightly. Drivers across the West Coast enjoyed a bigger price break, with diesel prices declining about 4¢ per gallon.

Gas prices explained
EIA’s monthly gas price breakdown shows how much is spent for crude, refining, advertising and taxes.

The reduction in tensions over Syria’s use of chemical weapons has helped futures markets recover from a spike in prices a few weeks ago, which contributed to investors’ fears about possible supply shortages. Additional worries about refinery capacity in Libya and Iraq have been assuaged by new evidence of rising oil supplies from those regions. Even so, oil futures for November delivery spiked late in the day Tuesday after weak trading through most of the day. However, futures prices were well short of their August highs, when the two month delivery price for Brent was up to about $117 per barrel. Currently, the price is about $108 per barrel.

U.S. crude oil, also known as West Texas Intermediate, has been falling for the past several sessions and could close below $100 within a week, if current declines persists. WTI peaked at the beginning of September, at $109.23 per barrel on September 6. WTI closed Tuesday at $103.37.



Summer Is Over, And Gas Prices Are Retreating

Gas price sign in Pompano Beach, Florida
The price of gas is falling again, but supply problems in Libya and the situation in Syria could still send prices higher again. This sign shows prices in Pompano Beach, Florida, on September 16.

Gas prices have begun their post-summer retreat, helped along by recently-reduced tensions in the Middle East, notably over the Syrian chemical weapons crisis. The price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas fell by four-cents during the past week, according to the latest survey of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The cost of driving fell much more across the Lower Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions, where the average price of gas dipped by twice the national average. Gas prices were also off by almost 9-cents per gallon for Midwestern drivers.

However, the current pricing trend was not the same for drivers across the West Coast and, particularly, motorists in California. In fact, West Coast gas prices were up more than a dime per gallon, largely due to a spike in prices in the Golden State. Minus the California gas price situation, West Coast fuel prices were still up by about two-cents per gallon.

Meanwhile, the cost of driving a rig has finally stabilized a bit, this after several weeks of pricing increases that made life for truckers more expensive. The price of a gallon of diesel fuel slipped by about a penny per gallon across nearly all regions. However, the Rocky Mountain states bore witness to exactly the opposite trend, where the price of a gallon of diesel is up by about a penny. In California, diesel prices were flat to slightly higher.

The EIA has released a statement during the past week which revealed a growing disparity between the price of crude oil and the Standard and Poor’s equity index. The EIA tracks the correlation between Brent Light Sweet Crude and the equity markets as a way to determine whether consumer prices are generally in line with supply and demand. According to the report, the fears of supply disruptions as a result of problems in Syria continued to weigh on the price of oil futures. Real supply problems in Libya are expected to grow through the end of September.

While the fears of a Syrian-caused oil-supply disruption have been assuaged in the wake of a new diplomatic agreement over Syrian chemical weapons, the Libyan oil supply problems are likely to weigh on oil futures prices, according to the EIA. That could drive prices back up toward the end of September, according to the report.

Meanwhile, overall gasoline prices continue to sit well below their 2012 levels. The average price of a gallon of unleaded gas, in the U.S., is about 33¢ below the levels at this time last year. Diesel prices are about 16¢ per gallon less that at this time in 2012.



As Summer Drivers Leave The Road, Gas Prices Dip

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The price of gas took a moment to retreat from late summer highs during the past week, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The EIA’s weekly gas price survey shows the average price of a gallon of unleaded gas dropped by about two cents per gallon, although bigger price declines were enjoyed by the hard-hit Midwestern States and their commuters. Higher prices hit the Rocky Mountain states and the West Coast, although California gas prices are the primary reason for the upswing in fuel costs in the Far West.

The drop in gas prices is likely due to a pair of factors. One is the summer driving season has  come to an end, with parents in nearly all states now home for the back-to-school rush. The other component of the retreating fuel prices is the drop in oil futures. Futures prices spiked around September 3, but they have been declining since September 4, and aside from a momentary high point on Monday, WTI futures, Brent crude and natural gas futures all are experiencing declining prices.

As oil futures prices decline, prices sometimes relax quickly at the pump; although, typically there is a greater lag time experienced when futures decline, versus the affected price at the pump. Nonetheless, the lower demand for gasoline, especially for summer travelers, coupled with the past week’s drop in oil futures, could lead to a stabilization of gas prices, if not further declines.

Meanwhile, truckers and other drivers of diesel cars found their prices mostly flat to slightly higher during the past week. The average U.S. price of diesel was unchanged last week, but prices on the West Coast and in New England were up. Prices for truckers in the Midwest were down, however.

Gas price trends through September 2013
Year over year, gas prices are down considerably.

Overall, drivers enjoying a much lighter impact from gasoline purchases on their wallets. The year over year numbers are nearly stellar in most regions. The average motorist will notice the price of gas is down by over 25¢ per gallon since this time last year, despite a major spike in prices that affected most of us earlier in 2013. The current unleaded cost of $3.59 per gallon is well off 2012’s figure, which was $3.85.

Unfortunately, however, the price of gas for drivers in California and the West Coast still averages near $3.80 per gallon at the moment, but that number is down from nearly $4.10 per gallon, on average, for the start of school in 2012.

For truckers, the news is nearly as good, with the average trucker on the U.S. East Coast paying about 15¢ less for a gallon of diesel this year; drivers in California and the West Coast are enjoying twice the price savings in 2013, with about 30¢ per gallon decline in diesel prices versus this time last year.



Gas Prices Keep Rising As Summer Winds Down

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Gasoline prices continued their upward march as the summer driving season wound down with the Labor Day Holiday. The weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the release of which was delayed this week because of the holiday, shows the average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline in the U.S. has gone up another six-cents per gallon, setting over the $3.60 mark for the first time in several weeks.

Prices have been under tremendous pressure as crude oil futures have skyrocketed in price lately, largely on fears of instability in the Middle East, particularly the situation in Syria. While gas price increase varied widely by region, most drivers from New York Metro to the Midwest paid between five and 10 cents per gallon more for gas during the past week, compared with the weeks immediately preceeding the Labor Day weekend. Drivers in New England and the West Coast states enjoyed lower price increases or, in the case of Washington and Oregon, price declines.

Diesel fuel pump icon
Weekly diesel price survey

Meanwhile, the price of diesel fuel has jumped considerably since last week, with some drivers paying about a penny per gallon more, as in the Rocky Mountain States, and truckers across the Midwest paying about a dime per gallon more for diesel.

Despite the unreast overseas and fears of a possible colder-than-usual winter season ahead, fuel prices are down considerably from just a year ago. The U.S. average price for a gallon of regular gas is down nearly a quarter, while the price of diesel is about 15¢ per gallon less than at this time in 2012.



As Predicted By, Gas Prices Start Late-Summer Increase

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The price of gasoline has begun to slip upward, as predicted by in our last story about the cost of fuels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly gas price survey shows gasoline prices fell in New England and across the West Coast of the United States, but the cost of driving increased for nearly everyone else. The average price of a gallon of gas is up about a penny over last week, but some areas, particularly the Midwest, were hit with a 2¢ to 3¢ increase in gas prices. The survey tracks the average regional cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

The news for truckers, however, was even worse. The cost of a gallon of diesel fuel was up in every region of the U.S., and the potential for an autumn spike in prices looms with continued unrest in the oil futures markets. The cost of diesel hit a U.S. average of $3.91 per gallon this week, although prices in California and across the West Coast are much higher. In some areas, the average diesel cost is hovering around $4.16 per gallon.

The Syria situation has thrown new waves of jitters into the oil futures markets, which had already been surging for October deliveries. The price of Brent and West Texas Intermediate futures both spiked amid news of possible chemical weapons use in the lengthy Syrian civil war, coupled with continued unrest in Egypt that could threaten shipping lanes in the Red Sea, The Gulf of Suez, the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal that connects them.
The potential of a U.S. missle strike loomed Tuesday morning, with some officials at the Obama Administration telling NBC news a military action could come as early as Thursday. U.S. warships and aircraft carriers in the region have already been repositioned for such an attack.

Despite the unrest and current pricing trends, overall fuel prices are still off their highs of the year, and prices are considerably lower than at this time in 2012. The price of gasoline is anywhere from 20¢ to 30¢ per gallon less than last year, and diesel prices are lower by about the same amount. Whether the year over year price break remains intact, however, will depend largely on futures markets and investors’ fears about supply going into the fall and winter seasons.

Farmers’ Almanac is been cited by numerous media in the past 24 hours, after that publication predicted a bitterly cold and snowy winter across the U.S. That kind of forecast could cause investors to bid higher on oil futures, with the expectation of high demands for heating oil, propane, kerosene and natural gas.

Cost Of Driving Keeps Falling, But For How Long?

Gas pump icon
Weekly gas price survey

Gasoline prices continued to fall during the past week, with the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded dropping about a penny per gallon, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Drivers in California and the West Coast enjoyed bigger declines of five to six cents per gallon.

However, if the oil futures markets are any indicator, the price of gas could be about to swing higher during September. In fact, the one region of the U.S. where gas prices are broadly higher is the Midwest, and that typically is an early indicator of an increase in fuel costs for drivers.

School bus:
Oil futures are higher over the past several weeks, an indicator gas prices are about to go higher in September. Such an increase could cost parents who drive their children to school rather than use a school bus.

The situation could be particularly troublesome for commuters with children, as the back-to-school rush is kicking into high gear. Many counties’ school districts opened for the new school year this week, with more coming on board in the coming week and immediately following the Labor Day Holiday, which is September 2.

For parents who drive their children to school, rather than sending their children to school on a bus, the increase in oil futures, coupled with the uptick in gas prices in the Midwest, could portend a costlier commute in the coming weeks.

Diesel fuel costs began a reversal of their recent downward pricing trends, as the average price of a gallon of diesel remained largely flat or notched higher across most regions of the United States. The average trucker is now paying about $3.90 for fuel in the U.S., alghough prices in some regions of the Untied States, particularly California, are well above $4.00 per gallon. Most school districts’ bus fleets also use diesel fuel, and a price increase will likely squeeze school budgets and cause districts’ school boards to reassess monetary priorities, in the event of a large price increase in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the year-over-year numbers are actually a bright spot, with gas prices lower for most drivers versus the back-to-school period in 2012. The average gas price is down about 19¢ per gallon versus last year, while diesel prices are lower by 13¢.


Gas Price Relief Comes As Parents Prep For Back-to-School

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The heat may linger, but gas prices are beginning to fall further from their summer highs as the back-to-school rush gets into full swing. That good news has been noticeable in nearly every region of the United States, as the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded dropped between 6¢ and 11¢ per gallon, with the biggest relief felt across the Midwest, where the summer started with a torrent of price hikes to match the torrent of bad weather in May. New England and California, where prices usually are higher than the U.S. average, enjoyed smaller declines in the cost of gas, with people from Maine to Massachusetts  paying about 3¢ less per gallon and West Coast drivers paying about 4¢ less.

Drivers in the Rocky Mountain states did not witness a decline in fuel prices, and some even felt a tighter grip by the pump this week. Across the region, prices remained mostly flat, although some stations raised prices by a penny or two. The Rocky Mountain region and California are the only two areas of the U.S. where prices are currently higher than they were last year at this time. Prices across the Rockies are up more than 14¢ per gallon versus their 2012 levels; California prices are up about 4¢.

Gas prices now at pre-summer levels.
Aside from a brief mid-summer drop, gas prices have not been at their current levels since the start of May.

For the most of rest of the country, prices this week are down from 2012 numbers by between 10¢ and 15¢ per gallon, although drivers across the Midwestern states are enjoying prices over 30¢ below this time last year. Gas prices, overall have not been this low since a dip in prices in early-July, which lasted less than two weeks. Prior to that, prices were last at this level in the weeks just before the Memorial Day holiday.

Truckers and other drivers of diesel trucks and cars enjoyed a slight drop in the price of fuel, but the weekly declines were not nearly as noticeable as for regular fuels. The average diesel driver enjoyed about a penny’s worth of relief at the per gallon level. However, like regular gas, the year-over-year numbers are more satisfying. The average U.S. price of a gallon of diesel is down about 7¢ from this time in 2012.



Gas and Diesel Prices Slip Downward In Nearly Every Region

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Weekly gas price survey

Gas and diesel prices retreated from their mid-summer spike during the past week, according to the latest price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Adminstration. For gasoline, prices dipped by an average of just over a penny per gallon, for regular unleaded.

Most regions that enjoyed a price break saw declines betwen 2¢ and 4¢ per gallon. However, drivers in the Midwest endured another increase in prices at the pump.

Overall, drivers across the United States have watched fuel prices bounce in a fairly narrow range during the past three months, although weather and refinery issues did impact gas prices across the Midwest in May and early June.

Fuel prices nationwide are an average of $3.63 per gallon, with prices mostly lower along the Lower Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, and higher across the New England states and across the broad Western U.S.Diesel fuel remained nearly steady or was lower in most areas of the United States last week.

The EIA reported the average price of diesel was down about a penny per gallon, although prices in the Rocky Mountain states and the West Coast, particularly California, notched upward one to two cents.

Diesel fuel is currently averaging $3.91 per gallon across the United States, but truckers and diesel car drivers in New England and the West Coast are paying well over $4.00 per gallon. The average price of a gallon of diesel in California is currently $4.13, according to the EIA.