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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Published: Friday, 8/29/2014 - Updated: 2 weeks ago

Weather, gas prices fine for Labor Day weekend travel

Toledo-area residents seek fun near, far

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

At the end of a summer that was mostly too cool, and for much of the past week was too warm, Labor Day weekend looks to be just about normal.

That will be fine for East Toledo residents Connie and Bryan Legler, who on Thursday looked forward to a weekend camping trip in Morenci, Mich., as long as it doesn’t rain much.

“It’s not going to be as hot as last year,” Mr. Legler said while filling up the couple’s car at a Sunoco station at Front and Consaul streets.

Find the lowest gas prices in Toledo at toledoblade.com/gas

Travel costs should be slightly less than last year.

“We can get out there and back for about 20 bucks,” he said.

Toledoans traveling farther during the long weekend should expect to pay a bit less for gas than in recent years, but depending on where they go could spend more time in construction-related traffic.

According to AAA and Gasbuddy.com, gasoline prices nationwide have been at their lowest leading up to the end-of-summer holiday since 2010.

The auto club’s daily Fuel Gauge report listed a national average price Thursday of $3.434 per gallon for regular gasoline, down about 9 cents from a month ago and 11.2 cents per gallon cheaper than this time last year.

The average price Thursday afternoon from Gasbuddy’s network of volunteer spotters was $3.426 per gallon nationwide, and in metro Toledo it was $3.309. Prices at some local filling stations were as low as $3.149 per gallon, and even a few pennies cheaper at some warehouse-club stores.

While gasoline prices tend to have little impact on people’s holiday travel plans, the auto club said lower prices “could help make travel more affordable.”

The Toledo area’s gas prices were, along with Youngstown’s, the lowest on average in Ohio and considerably cheaper than those in southern Michigan. AAA reported average regular-grade prices Thursday of $3.508 in Detroit, $3.550 in Ann Arbor, and $3.617 in Jackson.

History shows, however, that the Toledo gasoline market is prone to quick price jumps leading up to holiday weekends.

The metro area’s last price jump occurred Friday, when many stations boosted their regular price from the $3.10-$3.30 range per gallon to the upper $3.40s.

The reason for the improved economics of road travel can be found 10,000 feet below the ground.

U.S. refinery production in recent weeks reached record highs and left supply depots flush, cushioning the impact of all the instability surrounding traditional global oil fields.

“It’s a relief,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com, who estimates that U.S. consumers collectively saved as much as $700 million a week through much of August compared with last year. “We can thank Texas, North Dakota, and Canada.”

Based on its travel survey, AAA predicted 34.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or farther from home, the highest volume since 2008 and a 1.3 percent increase over last year, between Thursday and Monday.

“This year, Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation,” said April Cochran, a spokesman for AAA Northwest Ohio.

“Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation.”

The Ohio and Michigan transportation departments said many construction projects will be suspended for the long weekend — but not all.

The latter category includes the I-75 reconstruction project in downtown Toledo, for which full-time lane closings began early this month.

Motorists should be particularly alert for delays during today’s afternoon rush on northbound I-75, when homeward commuters and vacationers already out on the road will compete for use of two available lanes between Indiana Avenue and I-475.

Afternoon backups on less-busy days have stretched well into Wood County, so travelers may want to consider alternative routes such as State Rt. 795 to I-280 or I-475 — although I-280 also has lane closings for bridge work between the Walbridge and Woodville Road interchanges.

The Anthony Wayne Bridge will not be available as a bypass for I-75 congestion on the DiSalle Bridge because it remains closed for a major overhaul that started in March and has about a year to go.

Through most of Wood County, I-75 widening forces traffic to the right lane and right shoulder with a 60-mph speed limit, but two lanes should remain open in both directions throughout the weekend.

Weather forecasters, meanwhile, predicted typical late-summer conditions in and around Toledo during the long weekend.

Saturday is supposed to be a bit warmer than normal, with a high in the upper 80s, according to the National Weather Service office in Cleveland.

Sunday and Monday are predicted to top out just a degree or two above the 80-degree norms for those dates.

All three days were forecast to be partly sunny in Toledo, with 30 percent chances of thunderstorms each day.

Information from The Blade’s news services was used in this report.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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