Drivers pay price at pump as gas costs rise |

Drivers pay price at pump as gas costs rise

Gas nearing $3 a gallon across Steamboat

Steamboat local Brian Weerts fills up his gas tank at the Shop & Hop station along US 40 in Steamboat Springs on Thursday. Gas prices have continued to climb across the nation during the past few weeks.
Brian Ray

At the pump

Prices for a gallon of unleaded gas along Lincoln Avenue on Thursday

West Kum and Go - 2.99

7-Eleven - 2.96

West Philip's 66 - 3.05

Lincoln Avenue Conoco - 2.95

Sinclair - 2.99

Downtown Kum and Go - 2.99

East Conoco - 2.95

East Philip's 66 - 2.89

When Michael Flanders watches the digital numbers next to the dollar sign at the gas station nearly triple the gallon numbers, he’s at a loss for words.

“Unreasonable,” Flanders, who commutes to Steamboat from Craig daily for work, said to describe the current state of gas prices. “It’s a lot more expensive to go to work. Luckily, I’ve got enough to cover it.”

This week marked the 11th consecutive week gas prices in Colorado have increased.

The national average for a price of unleaded gasoline has gone up nearly 30 cents from a month ago. The national average of $2.86 a gallon is up 7 cents from a year a go.

In Colorado – the 23rd most expensive state for a gallon of unleaded – the average price is $2.83 for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, up 10 cents from a year ago. In Steamboat, gas pumps along Lincoln Avenue averaged $2.96 for a gallon of unleaded gas Thursday.

California is the most expensive state for a gallon of unleaded, averaging $3.34. Missouri is the cheapest, averaging $2.66, according to, AAA’s Web site for retail gasoline prices.

Although prices have continued to increase during the past couple of months, Eric Escudero, public relations manager for AAA Colorado, said there are some encouraging reasons to think gas prices may not get as high as last summer, when Colorado saw a record high price for a gallon of unleaded.

Escudero said the United States is currently producing more gasoline than in previous weeks. Last week, gas refineries were running at 88 percent of capacity. This week, they’re up to 90 percent, he said.

Also, gasoline futures – indexes used to predict future prices – have fallen during the past couple of days.

“The past month, there appeared to be no end in sight,” Escudero said. “Finally, we’re starting to see some signs that an end could be in sight.”

While gas prices during the past two summers have seen a dramatic spike, Escudero said the tourism industry in Colorado hasn’t suffered as a result.

In fact, he said, Colorado has seen an increasing number of tourists in the past two years.

That trend seems to hold true for Steamboat, too. Steamboat Spr-ings Chamber Resort Association spokeswoman Riley Polumbus said although the Chamber keeps an eye on gas prices, she knows summers in Steamboat traditionally have brought a lot of visitors.

“When we’ve seen prices go up, it doesn’t seem to affect us too much,” Polumbus said. “It’s always just hard to tell. We’ve just had one busy summer after another, and we hope this one will be busy, too.”

Although Escudero compared predicting gas prices to predicting the outcome of a football game, he said future gas prices will hinge on three factors: the severity of the hurricane season, increased tension with the Middle East – especially in Iran – and the demand for gasoline this summer.

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