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Gas Price Spike On New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway

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March 4 gas prices

Gas prices along New Jersey’s major highways were expected to rise a whopping 17 cents on Friday morning, March 4, 2011. (Photo: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s seemingly no end in sight for the pain at the pump. The price of a gallon of regular gas jumped 17 cents on Friday, to about $3.26, on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports from along the New Jersey Turnpike

The price of regular gas is creeping towards $4 a gallon and some analysts say it could be even higher by the summer.

If the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway figure into your regular commute, then you already know the stations along the two toll roads are some of the best places to find a bargain at the pump.

That’s all changing now. Gas prices are calculated weekly from a survey of other stations across New Jersey and are reset every Friday morning at 7 a.m. Drivers waited in long lines over the last 24-hours to get a cheaper fill-up while it was still available.

When the clock struck seven, drivers saw a 15-cent per gallon jump in the new sales price for medium and premium grades Friday and regular gas increased 17-cents a gallon.

Not only does New Jersey have one of the lowest gas taxes in the nation, but the prices on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike are calculated weekly from what’s called a Lundberg Survey, reports CBS 2’s Jay Dow. It establishes an average gas price at stations across New Jersey.

For drivers, the result is some sense of stability and, often, lower prices.

You don’t have to venture too far away from the Parkway or the Turnpike to understand the value of the survey that sets their prices. At a local gas station in Lyndhurst, drivers were paying $3.35 a gallon for regular. That exceeds what you’ll pay on those toll roads, and soars past the statewide average for regular.

Two moms tell 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that they can’t dig any deeper for gas money

Drivers in the Tri-State are growing increasingly frustrated with growingly expensive gas, and are trying to find ways to avoid the pumped up prices.

“It’s painful because salaries don’t go up and your benefits aren’t going up,” one woman said.

“It’s really crazy, it’s a lot, it’s $60 to fill up a mini-van, so it’s crazy,” another woman said.

The turmoil in the Middle East is a big reason for the spike in oil prices, but the oil that sells for $100 a barrel still has to be refined, so many are wondering why the prices went up overnight.

It’s true that investors will speculate on whether world or natural events will push up the cost of crude oil – eventually leading to higher gas prices – but service station owners also raise and lower their prices based on what it’s going to cost them to replace the fuel that customers are buying today.

“These are businessmen who are buying their supply every day, every other day, and it’s replacement cost,” Beth Heinsohn, of Oil Price Information Service, said. “They have to have enough money, literally, to buy the next tanker load that they sell to customers.”

That oil that made the gasoline that customers are putting into their cars today may have only cost $85 a barrel, but the oil that makes the fuel that will replace it will cost a lot more. Customers, then, are paying more now to cover the station owner’s cost in the future.

“For example, between Monday and yesterday, wholesale prices – the cost at which these guys buy their material – went up across the country 11 to 18 cents,” Heinsohn said.

Station owners didn’t pass that full increase along to customers, because they play the averages, knowing that when the price of oil comes back down, their prices will stay up long enough to make up the difference.

Chances are, as we ahead toward the Memorial Day Holiday and the summer driving season, gas prices could also barrel into new territory: $5 a gallon.

Pump wisely.

How do you cope with the seemingly unending increases in gas prices? Sound off in the Comments section!

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