CHICAGO (WLS) -- The summer travel season officially begins Friday as people take off for Memorial Day weekend. Many travelers are driving this year. Gas prices are down in comparison to the last, but they are creeping up.
AAA said more than 37 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles over the
"The glass is half full with gas prices that are still 95 cents a gallon lower than last year. It is quite a surprise to see prices not starting with a "4" when we are going to hit the road for Memorial Day," Patrick Dehaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy.com, said.
Dehaan says operational issues with the Exxon-Mobil refinery in Joliet, where the specialized, cleaner burning summer fuel required by law for the Chicago region is made, just happen to have cropped up ahead of the holiday
"It is not able to produce as much economic supply and demand . . . when you have less supply and strong demand for Memorial Day. Prices tend to go up and that's what we are seeing," he said.
Chicagoans tend to be resigned to filling up regardless of the cost. The average price is $3.429, up from $3.272 last week and $3.161 last month. Last year, the price was $4.426.
"I am a contractor so it obviously affects me because I am always travelling around," Reggie Hines said.
"Some of the highest prices that we will see this summer are likely happening right now so if that is good news," Hines said. "The highest prices are only about three bucks a gallon."
Gas prices tend to be quite a bit lower the further away from Chicago drivers get because of taxes. Right now the national average price is $2.73 a gallon.
"It is always up and down so if I look at my credit card and see that I saved $10, great. I can buy an extra drink at a bar. Other than that we still have to fill up no matter what," Micae Brown said.
IDOT reminded motorists that troopers will be out enforcing the state's "click-it-or-ticket" program.
Gas prices up for Memorial Day, but not as high as last year