Eastern Iowa gas prices down, but state average still higher than last year

Sub-$3 gas at many local stations comes as good news to motorists

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Numerous Eastern Iowa gas stations are selling gas at a noticeably lower price than the rest of the nation.

Many Marion gas stations displayed $2.99 for super unleaded fuel Wednesday, and some Cedar Rapids gas stations were at $2.97, below the $3 threshold for the first time in months.

At the Kum and Go at 3370 Seventh Ave. in Marion, Kyle Newman, 33 of North Liberty, said even the marginal drop made him want to top off his vehicle.

"I haven't seen it under $3 in a long time," Newman said. "I looked over and noticed it, and even though I'm tired, I decided to stop."

Newman, who lives in North Liberty and commutes to Cedar Rapids daily, said he hopes the drop in gas prices isn't temporary.

Chris Burhite had a different reaction. "I haven't had to fill up in three weeks," Burhite said. "I didn't really notice."

Burhite lives a couple miles away from where he works, and said the cost to fill up his sport-utility vehicle hasn't had too much of an effect on him.

Iowa's current average price for regular gas is about 10 to 20 cents lower than neighboring states Wisconsin and Illinois. Illinois' current regular gas average is $3.40, Wisconsin is $3.31 and Iowa is $3.22.

According to AAA's fuel gauge report, the national average for regular gas is $3.31. The Web site lists the highest recorded average price for regular unleaded fuel at $4.11 on July 17, 2008.

Cross-country traveler Scott Warren fills up on diesel and tends to notice when gas increases or decreases. Stopping at the Kum and Go with his trailer of horses Wednesday, Warren was happy to see diesel at $3.79.

"It was $4.09 in Wisconsin," Warren said about the price of diesel gas. "I'm surprised to see it this cheap."

At the Casey's on First Avenue and 35th Street, 38-year-old Sam Grissom didn't immediately notice the drop in super unleaded fuel, but when he did he wasn't too surprised.

"It's probably because they want us to spend money on other things, since gas affects things like car pooling, shopping and trips," Grissom said. "It probably won't last past Jan. 1."

AAA spokesman Gene LaDoucer said gas prices have been on a downward trend primarily due to the winter season, and that prices will likely stabilize as the holidays get closer.

"We generally see prices come down this type of year, and they’re following that pattern, which is a good thing," LaDoucer said. "But the pattern will also indicate that prices will move back up again around March or April."

However, Iowa's average gas price last year was $3.18, compared to $3.22 on Wednesday.

"On Christmas Day last year in Iowa, it was $3.08," LaDoucer said. "I think it’ll be close to those levels come Christmas Day. Prices have been moving quite sharply over  the last couple of days, and that price drop will be reflected in the state-wide average.

"Right now we can rejoice in the fact that gas prices are moving lower during the holiday season." LaDoucer added.

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