Aug. 31–With the average price for regular gasoline hovering just below $3 per gallon in Berks County, travelers on Labor Day weekend will find prices about 20 cents more expensive than a year ago.
Agencies that monitor gas prices expect to see a slight increase as prices traditionally go up over holiday weekends.
“With Labor Day approaching, motorists could see a small swing toward higher gas prices,” said AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano, “but any jump should not last past the holiday weekend.”
Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, said things should remain mostly quiet.
“With Labor Day dead ahead, we may see a small rise in the national average this week, depending on oil’s move,” he said. “But largely, this seems like the last week we’ll see elevated prices as demand is set to drop with the conclusion of Labor Day weekend.”
On Thursday morning, prices in Berks ranged from $2.79 to $3.02 per gallon. GasBuddy had the local average at $2.98.
The national average was $2.73, which was the highest since 2014 when it was at $3.58.
“It’s been consistently a more painful summer at the pump than what we’ve been accustomed to when compared to the last two summers,” DeHaan said.
One break for consumers has been the lack of any Atlantic hurricanes so far this season.
Last year, area drivers saw prices increase by nearly 40 cents per gallon over the weekend because of Hurricane Harvey, which shut down refineries and pipelines in the Southeast.
“The Atlantic remains quiet, so there is little chance of a major disruption,” DeHaan said.
DeHaan predicted falling prices in the upcoming weeks.
Hitting the road
AAA stopped making Labor Day travel forecasts in 2014, but other agencies have predictions for their stretches of highway.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike expects to see 3.5 million vehicles on its 552-mile network between Thursday and Tuesday.
Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton recommended getting an early start.
“Travelers might think by heading out by noon Friday will give them a jump on the holiday traffic,” Compton said in a press release. “But you may want to consider getting on the road earlier on Friday.”
The Turnpike expects today to be its busiest day with 750,000 vehicles. It expects 510,000 vehicles on Saturday, 450,000 on Sunday, 510,000 on Monday and 615,000 on Tuesday.
Also, both the turnpike commission and PennDOT will suspend most construction and maintenance projects through Monday to open traffic lanes. Restrictions will remain in place only for long-term projects, such as the Penn Street Bridge.
Sean E. Brown, a PennDOT spokesman, said police will be on the alert for impaired drivers.
At a recent press conference, Berks law enforcement officials said they will be looking for impaired drivers at DUI checkpoints and during DUI roving patrols.
They will be on the lookout for people driving under the influence of alcohol and will be seeking out drivers under the influence of drugs, both legal and illegal.
For those hitting the road, many are likely thinking whether the summer’s barrage of rain will continue through the weekend.
That depends on where you’re going, according to AccuWeather.
Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said the weather should remain mostly dry, but humid, from Philadelphia to Boston, but there’s potential for rainy weather to the west.
“A line of showers and thunderstorms will attempt to press eastward across the Northeast later Saturday into Labor Day, but most should diminish as they cross the Appalachian Mountains,” Pastelok said.
Contact Evan Jones: 610-371-5066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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