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Gasoline prices reach new highs, hit drivers hard

By Staff
Cost rises past $4 per gallon plateau
By TED STRONG
Staff Writer
Fuel prices finally passed the $4 per gallon mark over the holiday weekend at many Washington area gas stations, and the price really has taxi driver Jimmy Hawkins feeling the pinch.
Statewide, the current average price of gas is $4.038, up nearly $0.12 from a month ago and more than $1.16 from the same time last year, according to the American Automobile Association’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
And for the first time in a decade, AAA is expecting a decrease in the number of Americans traveling at least 50 miles from home during the Independence Day weekend.
Even the Internal Revenue Service, which normally adjusts the amount taxpayers are able to deduct for mileage only once a year, made a “special adjustment” last month. It bumped the rate for July to December of 2008 to 58.5 cents per mile, an increase of 8 cents from the rate for January to June.
But Chad Woodman of Wisconsin and Mike Harvey of Illinois were two of the more than 40.5 million Americans that AAA was still expecting to travel for July 4.
The former marines were on a days-long drive on their Harleys when they stopped for fuel at the Liberty gas station at Market and Fifth streets.
The pair said gas prices had been high all along their route, which led from Wisconsin through Tennessee and across North Carolina. Asheville had been by far the worst, with prices about half a dollar higher than anywhere else, they said.
Sunday’s plan called for the two to push on to Camp Lejune, and they expected to mark 2,000 miles sometime between Washington and there, they said.
Their motorcycles get roughly 50 miles per gallon, allowing the pair to afford their long-planned trip, which calls for them to turn north before returning to the Midwest, Woodman said.
Many local folks are turning to more energy efficient means of transit, Hawkins said.
Hawkins added that he hoped someone in the political world would come up with a plan for relief from high fuel prices — an issue that has been a hot political topic in recent weeks.
He also tied climbing fuel prices to another big news item — the nation’s faltering economy.