ORANGE BARRELS HERALD HOLIDAY

Gas prices skyrocket ahead of July 4 travel

But city far cheaper than national average

7/3/2014
BY KATHLEEN ASHCRAFT AND DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
BP on Monroe Street in Sylvania charges $3.59 for a regular gallon of unleaded gas Wednesday. Local gas prices were down more than an average of 30 cents from a month ago, but were rapidly rising.
BP on Monroe Street in Sylvania charges $3.59 for a regular gallon of unleaded gas Wednesday. Local gas prices were down more than an average of 30 cents from a month ago, but were rapidly rising.

Visiting West Toledo for the Fourth of July week, Lonnie Smith, 68, knew he had to jump on low gas prices where he could find them on Wednesday afternoon.

Though his trip was not far — he is from South Toledo — he understood the often-harsh realities of Independence Day weekend travel.

AAA predicted 41 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday, 5 million more than Memorial Day weekend and a 1.7 percent increase over the estimated 40.3 million who made such trips for last year’s Fourth of July.

Although air travel is expected to increase, private vehicles will continue to be the overwhelmingly preferred mode for holiday trips, accounting for more than 80 percent, the automobile association said.

■ For the Mud Hens game and fireworks show today, St. Clair Street will close at 3 p.m. between Monroe and Washington streets, and Monroe will close about 9 p.m. between St. Clair and Huron streets to set up the Fifth Third Field fireworks show planned after the game’s conclusion.

■ Sylvania’s show at Centennial Park today will involve temporary parking restrictions on Sylvania-Metamora, Centennial, and Mitchaw roads near the park.

■ Ottawa Street will close to vehicles between Washington and Broadway at 8 p.m. Friday, and an hour later, the King bridge and Summit Street between Washington and Cherry streets will close to vehicles. Eastbound traffic on Jackson and Adams streets and Jefferson Avenue will be detoured at St. Clair once Summit is closed.

■ On the Maumee River, an extended no-wake zone will be established Friday between the I-280 Veterans’ Glass City Skyway and the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge near the grain terminals. Marine traffic will be prohibited in a zone marked by buoys for the fireworks-shooting platform and in the designated channel off downtown Toledo, which is reserved for emergency marine traffic.

■ The Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge also will be closed during and immediately before and after Friday’s downtown fireworks show, so the only ways to cross the Maumee River on Friday evening will be the freeways and the Craig Memorial Bridge.

Local gas prices appear to be rising as the holiday nears and travel increases.

As of late Wednesday, the average gas price in Toledo, according to toledoblade.com/​gas, was $3.54 a gallon, up 15 cents a gallon from the day before.

But local gas prices were significantly lower than prices posted nearby in Michigan, as well as the national average, which was $3.68.

Local motorists are keeping their eyes on gas prices and area construction projects as the holiday approaches.

At the 7-Eleven on the corner of Lewis and Eleanor avenues, the price was $3.20 for unleaded gas on Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Smith said, “I heard the price was cheaper here, and thought I’d come and fill up while I could.”

Roberta Hayes, 37, came to the station for the same reason. “I passed a few others and saw $3.39 and $3.59,” she said.

Ms. Hayes said she may be traveling to Michigan for the weekend and would consider returning to that 7-Eleven for the low price.

Price is not the only factor in the choice of a gas station.

Proximity and familiarity play a role too. Lynette Porter, 38, of West Toledo stopped at the BP on the corner of Monroe Street and Douglas Road, which had a regular-grade price of $3.59, higher than the local average. Just across the street at Valero, the price was $3.37.


“I used to work across the street and I know the lady inside, so I came here,” she said.

Summer also is the peak of road-construction season, but officials in both Michigan and Ohio said lane closings would be suspended wherever possible for the holiday weekend.

Among the work zones to watch out for will be the Ohio Turnpike west of State Rt. 4, where one lane is closed each way for reconstruction and westbound traffic is split, with the left lane crossing over to what is normally the eastbound left lane.

One of two lanes remains closed, meanwhile, on I-280 between the State Rt. 795 interchange in Lake Township and Navarre Avenue (State Rt. 2) in Oregon for bridge work.

At the I-475/​U.S. 23 junction in Sylvania Township, crews have begun rebuilding the southbound U.S. 23 shoulder through the interchange.

The Anthony Wayne Bridge remains closed for renovations until September, 2015, which could be especially problematic Friday during the city fireworks display, because it’s popular both for car access and for people watching from its sidewalks.

Traffic-law enforcement typically is stepped up during holiday weekends.

Ottawa County is among jurisdictions announcing extra patrols: using a grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, sheriff’s deputies will work six extra overtime shifts during the weekend to target speeders, impaired drivers, and seat-belt violators.

Contact Kathleen Ashcraft at: kashcraft@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.