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Region’s gas prices: New year, same old story

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The only consistency in gas prices is the inconsistency in gas prices, according to AAA Colorado’s manager of public relations Eric Escudero.

But one constant in the Roaring Fork Valley, as well as the rest of the state, is the fact that gas prices are taking a bigger chunk from the paycheck than it used to.

“We are already paying more in Colorado on average, than we’ve ever paid for a gallon of gas,” Escudero said. “We’ve seen quite a substantial raise in prices over this time last year.”



To no surprise, the Roaring Fork Valley is one of the most expensive places in the state for a gallon of regular unleaded. Glenwood Springs is No.2 in the state with the average price of regular unleaded at $3.43 per gallon recorded on March 26, according to AAA. That’s a $.67 raise in price since the same time last year.

As if that weren’t enough to make residents want to start opting for alternate modes of transportation just to be able to make rent, all the cities surveyed by AAA in Colorado had an average gas price over the $3 per gallon mark last week. But it’s still hard to tell where the prices will peak this year.



“No one knows for sure,” Escudero said. “Predicting the gas prices is like predicting the weather. The current trends for oil prices are still near record highs, hovering around $100 per barrel. That is a big part of fuel prices and is not a real positive factor for motorists looking for cheaper gas prices.”

Anyone who lives here knows very well that prices from town to town and street to street can vary as much as $.20 cents a gallon. On March 26, Bradley Sinclair on Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs sold a gallon of regular unleaded for $3.35, while one block away at the Shell station on the corner of Grand Avenue and 27th Street was selling a gallon of regular unleaded for $3.47.

“What you see often is that mountain communities are more expensive than the bigger cities like Denver,” Escudero said. “Most reasons are cost of transporting the fuel and the land the gas station is on is more expensive, and that cost is passed on to the customers.”

Also, Escudero said that less competition in the smaller towns in western Colorado creates a sort of separate market creating higher fuel prices.

“If you go to the major metro areas there is a gas station on every corner,” Escudero said.

However, AAA’s weekly survey doesn’t include Aspen because, Escudero said, the smaller towns like Aspen which only have a couple of stations don’t provide an accurate average of price.

According to Mapquest.com, the Aspen Quick Mart’s price for a gallon of regular unleaded has already hit $3.80, and has also topped $4 for a gallon of premium unleaded. Other parts of the valley are higher than usual as well, and it’s still very early in the year.

“We are not that far from the all-time record set in May of last year and it’s only March,” Escudero said. “There is no certainty that prices won’t hit $4 a gallon. It’s possible they could, but it’s not a certainty.”

Despite the high prices throughout the state, Colorado ranks 14th in the nation for cheapest gas prices. That is a “silver lining” to the storm cloud of rising gas prices across the nation.

“There is nothing typical with the way the prices are rising,” Escudero said. “In the past once you get into late March and around Memorial Day the prices will shoot up.”

Last year, Colorado set its all-time record for state average price for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.34 on May 24. Currently the state’s average is $3.18 per gallon, 7 cents higher than a week earlier but still 16 cents below the all-time high. Glenwood Springs is currently only 10 cents shy of it’s all time high set last year as well on May 24 when prices for a gallon of regular unleaded hit $3.53.

Valley residents who use diesel fuel are really feeling the pinch. Diesel prices hit an average all-time high of $4.22 on March 25 in Glenwood Springs.


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