Gas prices lower as Memorial Day weekend arrives

Gas prices are expected to be well below last year’s Memorial Day weekend as a record-breaking number of travelers are expected to travel by air or roadways.

Whether it be by car or plane, AAA predicts 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home in the next four days. That’s 1 million more travelers than last year, and it would be the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005, according to the group.

While road trips continue to reign supreme for Memorial Day, more Americans will fly, ride the train or bus, or take a cruise vacation compared to last year. Air travel is expected to increase 5.5 percent over last year, with 2.9 million Americans taking to the skies. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.9 percent, to 1.75 million travelers.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 9 percent higher this Memorial Day, with an average round trip ticket landing at $181. Hotel costs have also increased since last Memorial Day, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $215, or 18 percent more than last year. Daily car rental rates will average $66, which is 7 percent more than last year.

Although gas prices have increased in this region in the past week, more than 1.4 million Ohioans are expected to travel over the holiday, an increase of 2.2 percent from 2016, according to AAA.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Cindy Antrican of AAA.

Ohio recently had the largest gas price increase this week in the country, increasing 10 cents to $2.35 a gallon. Michigan was second to Ohio with an increase this week of nine cents, making the average gas price there $2.49.

The rising gas prices are due to the growing demand for gas all over the nation and Ohio’s drop in gasoline inventory, according to AAA.

Gas prices were predicted at the start of the year to be $3 per gallon by Memorial Day. Instead, the number of U.S. gas stations selling fuel for less than $2 per gallon has nearly doubled since last week to 5,177, according to GasBuddy.com, a gas price tracking website.

“It’s a boon to motorists that are seeing a consistent decline for the last few weeks just ahead of Memorial Day weekend,” said Patrick DeHaan, a GasBuddy analyst.

On Wednesday, the lowest unleaded gas price was $2.17 a gallon at the Marathon at North Dixie Drive and Little York Road. Even though gas prices are increasing, they are almost 20 cents lower than last year’s prices for unleaded gas. The average price last year was $2.51 a gallon.

With travel expected to be much higher than last year, motorists can expect delays on area highways around construction zones. Montgomery County has 24 traffic projects that could be an issue to some drivers. Some area projects include:

• Interstate 70 between Taywood Road and Airport Access Rd with shoulder and lane closures.

• Interstate 75 through Dayton with shoulder, lane, and ramp closures.

• Ohio 235 north of the I- 70/Ohio 235 interchange.

• I-75 from north of the I-70/75 interchange to the Miami Co. line with nightly lane closures as well as various other routes nearby.

Weather in the upcoming weekend also could bring some challenges to motorists.

WHIO meteorologist Kirstie Zontini said there will be a few showers on Friday, a possible isolated storm on Saturday with showers in the afternoon and night, and on Sunday possible showers and storms during the first half of the day.

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