State Route 95

ADOT plans to make drainage improvements on State Route 95 in 2017.

Arizonans celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday this week in California better be prepared for some sticker shock. A new gasoline tax this month assured California gas prices are the highest in the nation.

With AAA projecting a record number of Arizonans on the road this holiday — almost 850,000 — it’s a sure bet many will take a big gulp when filling up in California. At an average of $3.28 per gallon, California’s prices are almost 90 cents per gallon higher than Arizona.

Is that a glimpse of the future for Arizona? We hope not, though Arizona suffers from the same needs as California in terms of its highway and bridge construction and repair needs. Though additional taxes or fees get some legislative discussion in Arizona each year, the ideas get shot down pretty quickly.

Prices in Arizona are rising a few pennies per gallon at a time, with higher prices expected through the holiday season.

High demand coupled with residual effects from the season’s hurricanes are getting most of the blame.

In California, it’s not just taxes, high demand and hurricanes driving up prices. According to the Los Angeles Times, refiners in the state continue to benefit from a high margin that should’ve decreased when a Torrance refinery went back on line last year. The tally, according to the paper, is about $3 billion per year.

After decades of whipsawing gasoline prices, America’s motorists have benefitted from stable gasoline prices for the past few years.

There is plenty of supply, alternate fuel vehicles are becoming more common even as fuel efficiency increases and international petrol politics have been relatively stable. Refinery and delivery problems — along with new taxes — are about the last refuge of high fuel prices.

Yet with a healthy economy, few will decide to stay away from California this holiday solely on the basis of gasoline price.

Arizonans staying in state, though, will certainly get a look at the condition of Arizona highways and bridges.

It’s not very pretty or comfortable. At some point, disrepair becomes the price paid for enjoying the lower gasoline prices.

— Today’s News-Herald


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