Johnson City

Gas prices jump 20 cents across Tri-Cities, Virginia

Expected to continue to climb through April

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Prices at the pump have jumped more than 20 cents in both Tennessee and Virginia over the last week.

According to AAA Fuel Gauge Report, prices in the Tri-Cities last week were about $3.37 a gallon. Now it's closer to $3.57. In Virginia, prices jumped from $3.39 to $3.62.

"I think this is ridiculous. It went up 10 cents overnight! What's going on?" asked driver Susan Abbott.

Donna Ottinger with AAA in Johnson City said the fluctuation is a combination of factors. She said tensions in Iran may be effecting prices as well as economic growth in China and Europe, which has increased demand for fuel. "Crude oil has been about $95 a barrel, which has been standard, but is just now affecting us at the pump as consumers. It's just taken awhile to get there," she said.

She explained it also has to do with the season as some American refineries are going offline and others are shutting down. "They're doing their summer blend of fuel, so there's a lower output which drives up the cost," Ottinger said.

The increase is bad news for local organizations, like the First Tennessee Human Resource Agency, that depend on driving to help feed and transport people in the community. "We're just like everyone else, it affects our bottom line and we feel the pinch," said Jason Cody, the executive director of FTHRA.

Their programs include delivering 1,400 hot meals to the elderly and disabled with the Meals on Wheels program.

The NET Trans transportation service runs about 1,000 trips per day to popular places in the community including the grocery store. "We try to look at our routes and structure them to make those distances the best in a local pattern," said Cody.

The prices could continue to climb through April, just as drivers prepare for spring break trips. A recent AAA survey reports drivers said they would rethink their travel plans if gas prices reach $3.75 a gallon.

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