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Gas prices up for holiday

May 26, 2000|By JOSH POLILOVE

Memorial Day traffic is expected to increase by 10 percent over last year in Maryland despite the fact that gasoline prices are at near-record highs, according to the American Automobile Association.

A gallon of unleaded gasoline is selling for an average of $1.52 nationally, down 2 cents from the record high in March. In the Hagerstown area, most gas stations are charging about $1.50 a gallon for unleaded gas.

Gas prices have increased 4 to 8 cents in the week prior to Memorial Day for the last dozen years, AAA Mid-Atlantic Public Relations Manager Myra Wieman said.

But about 485,000 other Maryland residents will travel at least 100 miles from their home for the holiday anyway, AAA says.

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Among them is Vicki Firor.

"When prices get this high, it starts making you think about what you're going to do," Firor said. "But I guess there's not much we can do about it, is there?

"Rain or high gas prices, we'll still be going to the (Chesapeake) Bay this weekend."

Mike Weber, manager of the Sheetz at 301 E. Washington St. in Hagerstown, said much of the reason for the cost is higher prices charged by oil-producing countries and less fuel availability around the world.

"Sheetz, in general, doesn't try to gouge prices," said Weber, whose store price for a gallon of unleaded was $1.499 Friday morning and has increased about 2 cents in the last week and a half.

"We try to sell for as low as we can because the lower our gas prices, the more gas we can sell."

Fuel prices have risen dramatically in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania since the beginning of last summer.

Since last May, average costs have increased 41 cents in Maryland to $1.53 a gallon, 40 cents in Virginia to $1.47, 38 cents in West Virginia to $1.52 and 38 cents in Pennsylvania to $1.49.

Firor worries costs will continue to climb.

"I hear they might go up even higher, maybe 10 to 15 cents a gallon," she said.

For the Memorial Day, there is expected to be an increase in traffic nationally. AAA predicts a nationwide traffic increase of more than 3 percent for the holiday.

If that is the case, it would be the 10th consecutive year of increased Memorial Day traffic, Wieman said.

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