The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

July 2, 2012

Gasoline prices fueling U.S. travel for Fourth

JOPLIN, Mo. — When James McDowell saw that gasoline was selling for $3.02 a gallon on Monday in Joplin, he decided to top off his tank.

“Considering what it has been, it’s down quite a bit,” said the 73-year-old resident of Baxter Springs, Kan.

McDowell was in Joplin to attend a funeral. He’s not planning to travel anywhere over the Fourth of July holiday. But he’s glad just the same for cheaper gasoline.

“We can get out and do more when it’s cheap,” he said, laughing at the notion that $3.02 a gallon is now considered cheap. “I remember when gas was 14.9 cents a gallon. Now that was cheap.”

Regular gasoline was selling for $3.02 a gallon on a cash basis at Mac’s convenience store, 2703 E. 32nd St. It was a bit higher at $3.06 a gallon if one used a credit card.

Gasoline prices are poised to fall below $3 a gallon this week. Gas already is selling for $2.99 a gallon in Tulsa, Okla. It was down to $3.01 a gallon on Monday in Springfield.

That compares with a Missouri average price of $3.82 a gallon for regular gasoline in April.

The drop in fuel costs is a factor in the significant increase in travel that is expected this week, according to Mike Right, spokesman for AAA of St. Louis.

“This Fourth of July holiday, 42.3 million Americans are expected to travel, an increase of 4.9 percent overall when compared to last year,” he said.

About 35.5 million Americans are predicted to journey by car, a 4 percent increase. Air travel is expected to be up more than 9 percent.

“It’s been quite a while — since 2007 — that we have had this many travelers over the Fourth,” Right said. “In 2007, the Fourth fell on Wednesday, so Wednesday is good.”

Right said a midweek holiday tends to increase the number of travelers who combine either the two days before the holiday or the two days after to make a mini-vacation. That was bolstered by evidence that Friday was a heavy travel day across the U.S., he said.

There is some uncertainty about whether gasoline prices will continue to fall. Right said he is concerned about a bump in crude oil prices of 9.4 percent on Friday. Speculators are hopeful that Europe will recover from its economic crisis.

Right said: “It’s the more positive news coming out of Europe. Crude oil was depressed over concerns about a reduction in demand and the lack of economic activity there. There is now an anticipation that economic activity will heat up there.”

When the year started, the outlook for Joplin’s hotel district was favorable because gasoline prices were lower than $3 a gallon. But by early April, prices were approaching $4 a gallon.

“We were excited about the outlook, but that dissolved at the end of the first quarter,” said Pete Hall, manager of the Residence Inn by Marriott in Joplin. “The big concern was $4-a-gallon gas, and it looked like it was going to go a lot higher.

“That’s when we revised our expectations downward. We knew it would have a terrible impact on summer travel.”

Joplin’s hotel market, he said, has not experienced an upturn in reaction to the lower prices of late.

“It’s not worse, but it’s not better either,” Hall said. “I think people are reluctant to plan a trip too far out because they are skeptical of gas prices. There’s no stability.

“We think people will be making some last-minute decisions about travel this summer by taking a day or two and combining that with a weekend. We could see an uptick on weekends.”

Taking a day or two and combining that with a weekend appears to be what’s happening during this holiday week.

Kammy Bramlett, supervisor at the Missouri Welcome Center on Interstate 44, southwest of Joplin, said: “They’re headed for Branson, St. Louis, Lake of the Ozarks and Kansas City. Those are the hot destinations.”

More than 700 people visited the center on Friday and again on Saturday.

“A lot of times, we have one huge day and a couple of good days,” Bramlett said. “This week, it’s been continuous. We expected a busy week that will continue through Sunday. That’s when all of the Missourians that have left will come home.”

Had so many chosen not to travel on Friday and Saturday, the visitor totals for the center would have been down for the month of June.

“This June will be the same as last year,” Bramlett said. “In fact, it’s almost exactly the same amount of people. We had 15,078 people in June of last year. We had 15,073 in June this year.”

All of the motorists, she said, have one thing in common: “It’s hot, hot, hot — whether you are going east or west.”

 

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r072414trainwreck.jpg Coming Sunday: Service to mark the centennial of deadly train wreck

    One of the deadliest train wrecks in U.S. history occurred a century ago just south of Joplin, near Tipton Ford.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • 1717 Marketplace developer facing more federal charges

    The Springfield developer of 1717 Marketplace on Range Line Road in Joplin is now facing additional bankruptcy fraud charges beyond those leveled against him last year for a series of bank fraud and wire fraud schemes.

    July 25, 2014

  • 072514_boyfriend3.jpg Overacted on purpose: 'The Boy Friend' is a send-off of '20s-era musicals

    The musical is filled with history. It is the third-longest-running musical in British history, and Julie Andrews starred in the Broadway debut of the play in America. The musical is also the first Broadway musical to be performed by Joplin Little Theatre, which first picked up the script in 1960, about 20 years after its formation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514_chubby.jpg Grammy win has kept zydeco singer Chubby Carrier busy

    Since winning a Grammy for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album in 2011, Chubby Carrier's schedule has filled up. But he is thrilled to be able to return to Joplin.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Our View.jpg Our View: Scratch this off your list

    Missouri voters will go to the polls on Aug. 5 and consider a measure that would create a new lottery ticket devoted to helping fund the Missouri Veterans Commission.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Oklahoma appellate court upholds class-action status in lawsuit filed by Picher residents

    An appellate court this week upheld a 2013 lower court ruling permitting class-action status for a lawsuit brought by former residents of Picher, Oklahoma, against a Tulsa-based appraisal firm involved with the buyout.

    July 25, 2014

  • Hospital Shooting 2.jpg Cause sought for gunfight between patient, doctor

    Authorities are attempting to determine why a patient fatally shot a caseworker at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex and whether a psychiatrist who pulled out his own gun and wounded the patient had concerns about him.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014