UPDATED 04/25/11 9:14 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The price for a gallon of gasoline in Chicago is now the highest in the nation.
According to the Lundberg survey, the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline in Chicago now stands at $4.27–a 12 cent increase in the past two weeks. And that’s just the average. Several stations in Chicago were selling gasoline for between $4.60 and $4.70 a gallon, according to chicagogasprices.com.
The highest prices Monday morning were found at two gas stations close to highway entrances. At the Citgo station at 1004 S. Desplaines St., near the Taylor Street and Roosevelt Road entrances to the Dan Ryan Expressway, and the BP station at 755 W. Lawrence Ave. near that street’s entrance to Lake Shore Drive, the price was $4.69 per gallon.
By comparison to all that, the national average is $3.88.
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“I just put in whatever I think is going to be enough to get me through the week,” Gloria Selgado of Chicago told CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov. “That’s it.”
For Selgado, that rings up to about $130 every seven days — forcing her to consider cutting back on her driving.
“I have to think about it twice, to go anywhere I have to think about these things,” she said.
For Scott Jacobs of Park Ridge, cutting back on other expenses, such as long summer trips, is the only way to budget the steep price of driving in Chicago. He and his family will stay closer to home for their getaway.
“We love to camp, but we’ll probably just pull in our camp zones a little bit. There’s a lot of great camping in, you know, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin,” Jacobs said.
Even younger drivers say they’re making a social sacrifice.
“I can’t go out as much,” one young woman said, “and then I have to ask my parents for money sometimes.”
Para Sivagura drove to Chicago from Toronto for an extended weekend trip. She was shocked at spending $300 just to get to Chicago, and she was nervous about how much it would cost to get back home.
“People can’t afford to drive on the street,” Sivagura said. “Pay-wise is not that much. Cost of living is higher and higher.”
Across the border in Northwest Indiana, where prices are historically 25 to 30 cents a gallon cheaper, it’s nearly impossible to find a gallon below $4. Higher state and county taxes in Illinois account for the cost difference over the border.
The national average now stands at $3.88—with no signs of a reversal anytime soon.
The highest prices are normally seen in California. In San Francisco, which has held the most expensive title in the past, the average is $4.22.
That makes $5 a gallon in Chicago a very real possibility. And some experts say, if conditions are right, drivers could be paying $6 before the year is out.
Commodities analyst Richard Hastings says don’t look for any relief soon.
“This year, you get more than $4 a gallon … all the way through until September,” he says.
That may be the optimistic view. If supply disruptions occur, look out.
“That could easily send prices at the pump slightly above $6 a gallon, and then they would start to come back down after that,” Hastings says. “But we could see an amazing spike.”