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Middle East tension driving up gas prices for holiday travel
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Jim Brock, of Gainesville, fills his gas can before his car Wednesday afternoon at Lakeshore Texaco. He has grass to mow, he said, and will spend this holiday weekend “staying at home and watching the Braves and car races.” - photo by NAT GURLEY

Your Labor Day weekend travel plans likely don’t include Syria, but that country will still be a factor in them.

“As Labor Day approaches, gas prices will likely continue to inch up, and the only reason for that is the situation in Syria,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for website

“Crude oil prices have gone up about $4 a barrel this week, and gas prices will follow,” he said. “The longevity of the situation in Syria will have a direct impact on gas prices.”

DeHaan said the average gas price in Georgia is $3.47 a gallon but noted that is “far below” last year’s average price on Labor Day of $3.80 a gallon.

“We don’t find coupons for gas, or clearance sales on gas, so about all consumers can do is patronize stations that have competitive prices,” he said. “That enables them to stay in business and rewards them for keeping their prices competitive.”

Gas prices also can vary across state lines, DeHaan said.

“The best thing you can do is just shop around.”

You’ll likely have lots of company as you fill your car’s tank for your travels, as AAA predicts a 4.2 percent increase, to 34.1 million Americans traveling 50 miles or more from home this weekend.

AAA predicts 918,875 Georgians will be traveling this weekend, 805,406 by automobile. Another 66,287 will be traveling by air and 47,182 will use other means.

The state Department of Transportation has announced it once again will suspend construction-related lane closings for the holiday weekend, although emergency repairs could cause lane closures.

The anticipated increase in holiday travel is predominantly due to increased consumer spending and the improving housing market.

“Although this summer’s holiday travel numbers were pretty lackluster compared to last year, Labor Day travel is forecast to end the summer with a bang,” AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady said. “More people are forecast to travel this Labor Day weekend since the post-recession high of 45 million in 2008.”

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