Gas prices on the rise [The Cullman Times, Ala.]

March 26– Mar. 26–Higher gas prices are settling in for spring break week, along with another round of work along Interstate 65.

And near the end of summer, the new Alabama gas tax hike will pile on for the ride.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Alabama is $2.36 per gallon, which is up nearly 6 cents from last week and 23 cents from last month. The average price per gallon in Cullman County was $2.39.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said the higher price is directly linked to higher oil prices and refinery efforts to produce cleaner, more expensive gasoline.

GasBuddy price reports show the cheapest station in Alabama was priced at $2.10 per gallon Monday, while the most expensive was $2.78/, a difference of 68 cents per gallon. The cheapest price in the entire country Monday $1.12 per gallon, with the most expensive standing at $5.04.

The national average price of gasoline has risen 6.5 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.62 per gallon. The national average is up 22.2 cents per gallon from a month ago, yet stands 2.1 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

Alabama’s gas tax hike begins Sept. 1, which will tack on an additional 6 cents. Whether gas prices will decline or continue to rise is uncertain. The tax will reach 10 cents in two years.

Revenue from the tax will go primarily to road and bridge projects. Each 1 cent increase is estimated to be worth $32 million in new revenue, with the complete 10-cent increase expected to raise more than $300 million.

“Excess inventory of winter gasoline paved the way for deep discounts in some states after the holidays, and now with the transition to cleaner, more expensive summer gasoline underway, supply has tightened, and those previous deep discounts have vaporized,” DeHaan said. “The news doesn’t get much better either: motorists can expect the jumps at the pump to continue into April, and perhaps even lasting up to Memorial Day, when the transition to summer gasoline and refinery maintenance have generally wrapped up.”

OPEC countries along with Russia have continued to limit output in an effort to boost prices, which have recently risen to a four-month high, just shy of $59 per barrel. Ongoing turmoil in Venezuela is also playing a role in rising oil prices, thanks to a near country-wide electricity outage that curbed the country’s ability to export crude oil, according to GasBuddy.

With prices ticking up, motorists will also see a new round of work along Interstate 65 this week.

The Alabama Department of Transportation reported there will be nighttime, single-lane closures on Interstate 65 northbound north of Exit 291 (Alabama 91 near Colony) in Cullman County beginning about 6 p.m. Wednesday for concrete placement.

Also, on Thursday, the contractor will be repairing asphalt between the Blount County line and Exit 305 (County Road 222 in Good Hope). Motorists can expect single-lane closures northbound and southbound during the day.

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