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Students ready for spring break travel
Gas price average lower than same time last year
Julianna Towns, 16, will be spending her spring break week on a mission trip in Puerto Rico. Towns will be traveling with a group from Gainesville First United Methodist Church.

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National Weather Service forecast for Gainesville

Time to pack the cars and hit the roads — when school ends today, students in both the Gainesville and Hall County systems are on spring break.

Sisters Julianna and Marimartin Towns are all packed and ready to head out the door early Saturday morning — one to Puerto Rico and one to Florida.

Julianna, a Gainesville High sophomore, is going on a mission trip to Ponce, Puerto Rico.

“We’re going to be, like, painting and probably building something,” she said. “(The group leader) said we would figure out more about it when we got there, so we’re not sure exactly what we’re going to be doing.”

For Julianna, this will be her first time on an airplane.

“I love the group of people that I’m going with,” she said. “I’m really excited to be going with them.”

Her younger sister, Marimartin, is heading to a Florida beach with friends. She’s looking forward to everything but getting in the car.

“We talked about listening to old ‘High School Musical’ songs,” the Gainesville Middle School student said. “We’ll probably do our math homework because our math teacher gave us a big packet to do.”

Marimartin said the road trip would take around 10 hours, giving her plenty of time to finish that homework — and perhaps some left to calculate the total gas price for the trip.

Fuel prices continue to creep upward, though they are not much different from this time last year. According to AAA, the Georgia average price for regular gas Thursday was $3.47; a year ago it was around $3.50.

It’s a dime lower than the national average, at $3.57.

“We always see the prices peak in spring, typically,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “So it’s not uncommon.”

Most people believe gas prices are too high; a recent AAA survey found 40 percent of motorists think gas is too high when the price reaches $3 per gallon.

Sixty-five percent think it’s too high when it’s $3.50 per gallon, and 91 percent think it’s too high when it reaches $4 per gallon.

Jenkins said with more people driving and high ethanol prices, it’s usual for prices to increase. Prices could continue going up over the next couple of weeks, he said.

AAA has an online calculator,, which helps calculate the total fuel cost of a road trip based on current gas prices.

Those hitting Hall County roads will find construction work being done down a stretch of Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway. Crews will continue working on the roadways, but there are passing lanes open.

However, motorists are urged to remain cautious and slow down in work zones.

“It is construction season,” said Teri Pope, Georgia Department of Transportation district spokeswoman. “We’ve got work going statewide, so we do want people to be aware that there are work zones still active.”

Pope added any traffic fines are doubled in a work zone.

“It can add up really quickly,” she said. “I talked to somebody recently who had a $2,000 total fine because of following too closely, distracted driving, not wearing a seat belt, (and) speeding.

“So speeding through a work zone is not wise because you can get hurt, you can injure someone, and it hurts your pocketbook.”

April 7-11 is National Work Zone Safety Week, also providing a reminder to be careful when going through traffic work zones.

Pope said people can check on statewide road and weather conditions by dialing 511.

Speaking of weather, anyone hitting the roads this afternoon or Saturday may want to keep an eye on the skies.

The National Weather Service predicts a 80 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms today, mainly after 1 p.m. Saturday should be sunny, but with wind gusts as high as 15 mph.

Spring break runs through April 11; students in both Gainesville and Hall systems return to class April 14.

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