- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2012

High gasoline prices that are expected to continue rising will force motorists to shell out more at the pump and may have many people reconsidering summer travel plans to save money.

AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II said based on the climb in gas prices this year, he anticipated $4 per gallon prices in Maryland and Virginia by mid-April.

“This year may be the return of the ‘stay-cation,’ ” Mr. Townsend said, adding that a recent national poll pointed toward “more intelligent” traveling.

According to the most recent prices available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, regular gasoline prices across the United States on Monday averaged $3.87 per gallon. That’s about 5 cents more than March 12 and nearly 10 cents more than at the beginning of the month. The price is a full 30 cents more expensive than this time last year, when the price per gallon of regular gasoline reached its highest point since the end of 2008.

“It’s bad. I’m just preparing for when it’s $6 or $7 by May,” said James Campbell, a home preservation specialist based in Montgomery County.

On Thursday, he watched over his pickup truck parked in the shade of a Northeast gas station, where a sign advertised $4.09 per gallon for regular gas.

Mr. Campbell said he filled up two trucks for $3.85 per gallon in Maryland — $90 for one truck and $60 to top off another.

That doesn’t count the six- or seven-gallon generators or the lawn mowers he also must fill when he heads to a job, nor does it factor in the cut in efficiency when one of the trucks is hauling a trailer full of equipment.

“One-hundred-and-fifty dollars a day? No problem,” Mr. Campbell said.

This time of year, Metro sees an uptick in rail riders during the cherry blossom season, but when it comes to a boost in commuters hoping to dodge the fuel pump, Metro spokesman Philip Stewart said it wasn’t likely.

“What we’ve found is people seem to make cuts in other places in their budget before making any major changes,” Mr. Stewart said. “Typically commuting habits tend to be one of the last things people will change.”

As he replaced the gas cap on his mid-size SUV, Wantage, N.J., resident Kriss Brunngraber considered the $55 price displayed on the fuel pump screen.

“I wonder when my company is going to pull our gas cards,” the marketing director said.

In town for a conference, Mr. Brunngraber said the prices of gasoline in the District were about 40 cents higher than those in his home state.

“For people who are struggling, it’s a killer,” he said.

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