published Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

July 4 fuel prices highest since 2008

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    Mark Ready waits at the Chattanooga Airport on Wednesday for his flight back to Florida, where he will spend the Fourth of July.
    Photo by Shawn Paik.
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JULY 4 COSTS

34.8 million: Americans expected to travel by automobile for July 4

742,059: Tennesseans expected to make road trips for July 4

$3.68: Average price for one gallon of gas nationwide

$3.48: Average price for one gallon of gas in Tennessee, up from $3.25 last year

$3.61: Average price for one gallon of gas in Georgia, up from $3.34 last year

$3.70: Peak gas price per gallon nationwide, which occurred Feb. 28

$3.52: Peak gas price per gallon for Tennessee, which occurred April 26

$3.70: Peak gas price per gallon for Georgia, which occurred April 30

Source: AAA

365 million gallons: Average fuel need per day in the U.S. since Jan. 1

$1.44 billion: Amount Americans are projected to spend per day on fuel between July 2 and July 4

Source: GasBuddy.com

The bombs bursting in air have put a kink in some Americans' Independence Day plans this year.

Fuel resources AAA and GasBuddy.com report that this year, July 4 gas prices are the highest they've been since 2008. The organizations predict the July 4 national gas average will be $3.68 a gallon, compared to $3.48 a year ago and $4.10 in 2008.

Although gas is cheaper in Chattanooga, the average price of a gallon of regular gas in Chattanooga on Wednesday at $3.38 a gallon was still up 16 cents above what it was a year ago.

Part of the blame is pinned on Iraq, and the unrest boiling there that puts the country's 2.6 million barrels of daily oil exports at risk.

Also, the U.S. was forced to find other crude oil sources after Libyan exports disappeared following an uprising of rebels in 2011 and the civil war that's followed.

The U.S. has enjoyed an uptick in domestic production, which has helped stabilize prices here, according to the reports. But travelers like Jennifer Gann are still feeling a bit of a crunch this holiday week.

Gann and six other family members on Wednesday were headed from Hamilton, Ala. to Blue Ridge, Ga. where they intend to take in the hot summer holiday at a cabin.

Normally, the family would have taken two cars for the five-hour trip.

"We crammed in to save on two cars," said Gann, outside of the I-24 welcome center.

Gann is one of 34.8 million Americans that AAA projects will take road trips of 50 miles or more over the holiday. It's the largest number of Independence Day road travelers since 2007.

Even for non-travelers, high fuel prices are going to have an impact on July 4 plans.

Melanie Dean, marina manager at Chickamauga Marina, said with pump prices at $4.70 a gallon, boaters are also tweaking July 4 plans accordingly, but they're probably more numb to the high prices than others.

"I think everyone is just kind of galvanized by the whole fuel thing," she said. "Boaters have just kind of resigned themselves to the fact that it is what it is."

Still, she said most boaters are "not going as hard or as far as they've gone in the past."

The marina tries to help out by offering a 10 percent discount for its customers, which knocks gas down to $4.23 a gallon at the pump.

"Every little bit helps," Dean said.

And high gas prices aside, she said nearly anything is better than last year, when July 4 was drenched by inches of rain.

"That four days of rain killed us last year," said Dean. "We're looking forward to a hot, dry July."

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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