Ashland-Medford area tops state gas prices

Oregon gasoline prices are breaking year-old records and in some metro areas they are setting new records every day, according to the Oregon-Idaho AAA. The average gasoline prices in the Ashland-Medford area are the highest in the state at $3.87, up from $3.80 just last week. The state average is at $3.82 and the national average $3.80. Oregon's gas prices are the 16th highest in the nation, though still cheaper than California.

"We get a lot of people who drive from Yreka to fill their tanks up because the gas is cheaper," said Sarah Juedes, who works at the Arco station on Ashland Street, where regular unleaded is $3.75 a gallon, the cheapest in Ashland. In Yreka, regular unleaded is going for $4 a gallon.

With Memorial Day weekend near, many people are taking the cost of gasoline into consideration when making travel plans. The Oregon-Idaho AAA predicts a slight decrease in Memorial Day holiday travel by vehicle.

"It's a little frustrating and unexpected," said Ashland resident Albertico Acosta. "There is actually a chance that the increase in the price of fuel may prevent me from being able to make the trip I had planned. Just last week it cost $75 to fill up my tank, when it used to cost about $45."

Travelers are expressing more than just frustration &

some are outraged at the high cost of fuel.

"I think the prices for gasoline are much too high," said Bob Wilhelm, who plans to be traveling during Memorial Day weekend. "Everyone needs to write their congressmen. We are completely dependent on foreign oil. Something is wrong."

Controlling cost

Gas station employees hear the sentiment from customers but have no control over the pricing process.

"I think people are noticing the shift in prices," said Juedes. "But it is what it is. We still have to drive. I haven't noticed less people coming in for gasoline."

In Ashland, a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline sells from $3.75 to $3.99, depending on the station. However, all stations agreed that fuel prices are set by their corporate headquarters and that they have little choice in establishing the price. When asked about the differing price per station, a gasoline attendant &

who declined to give a name &

suggested factors such as the difference in the price of real estate where the establishment is located and how many employees each station has.

Ashland resident Annie Walsh doesn't drive, but the rising cost of fuel is impacting her decision to purchase a vehicle.

"I haven't driven in two years so I haven't paid much attention to the gas prices, but now I'm wanting to buy a car and realizing how expensive it will be to drive it," she said. "I would want to be really conscious about when I choose to drive, and only use it when I can't walk or bike. I am shocked at the prices, but I think that with the increasing cost people are having to become more conscious about when they drive. Hopefully it can help us become more aware of the environment and cut down on consumption."

Gas prices have risen recently along with the cost of crude oil. A barrel of crude costs topped $135 today, up from about $113 on May 1, and more than double the price it was a year ago.

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