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Scott Shenk writes about transportation issues affecting Fredericksburg-area residents.

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Gas prices jump double digits

That somewhat comfortable start to the new year with flat gas prices went out the window in a flash.

Prices at the pump have jumped double-digits since last week, with the big spike coming locally over the weekend.

Local gas prices, according to AAA’s gas finder, average $3.39 a gallon for regular, a penny higher than the same time last year. But it’s 17 cents higher than a week ago.

In Virginia, the price for a gallon of gas climbed more than 13 cents in the past week, pushing the average price to $3.40 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com.

Even with the spike, Virginia’s average gas price is 4.5 cents less a gallon than the same time a year ago.

National gas prices increased more than 14 cents a gallon in the past week, pushing the average to $3.51. That puts the national average 4.5 cents higher than a year ago.

Analysts say climbing oil prices are the primary reason for the spike in gas prices.

“The national average has ticked higher in the last week, as rising oil prices have put upward pressure on gasoline prices,” said GasBuddy.com petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Unfortunately for angry motorists, there doesn’t seem to be much relief in sight, at least for the time being, as retail prices continue to climb in virtually all areas of the country,”

Refinery maintenance and low supply also contributed to the spike, according to AAA, which pointed out that crude oil prices have climbed 14 percent since December.

“Various factors have contributed to this unseasonal rise in gas prices, perhaps the most obvious being the recent rally in crude oil prices,” according to Jana L. Tidwell, with AAA Mid-Atlantic. “If crude oil continues to rise, gas prices will likely follow suit.

Nevertheless, AAA thinks national gas prices will rise slower than the past two Februaries, when prices at the pump increased 29 cents and 27 cents.

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