FARGO — Gas prices are on the rise, but that still won’t stop the most residents in a decade from traveling this Memorial Day weekend.
Triple A spokesman Gene Ladoucer of Fargo said an estimated 37 million Americans are expected to venture out, with 88 percent — or about 33 million — traveling on the roadways.
“That’s the best since 2005,” he said. “We’re back from pre-recession levels.”
Ladoucer said from 2006 through 2009 there was about a 30 percent drop in travelers.
What’s helping in the rebound in recent years and especially this year, he said, is the lower gas prices, declining unemployment and wage growth.
Gas prices are almost exactly $1 lower than last Memorial Day in North Dakota, he said.
The busy highways are also expected to last through the summer. Ladoucer said a new survey the company just started this year shows that 75 percent of North Dakotans are planning a trip of three to seven days by August. Because it’s a new survey, he said there are no figures to compare.
The survey found most destinations for travelers are visiting family or friends, camping at state or federal parks or visiting a metropolitan area. Most from North Dakota will be heading to Minneapolis-St. Paul, the survey found.
The cheaper gas is probably one of the biggest driving factors behind more travelers, Ladoucer said, as it gives families more disposable income.
In the region, North Dakota had the lowest average price for gas at $2.54, with South Dakota at $2.58 and Minnesota at $2.61, according to the website gasbuddy.com.
Of the metropolitan areas, Fargo had the least expensive gas with an average of $2.51 — and the lowest price at $2.34.
Other gas price averages in metro areas in the region were $2.49 in Sioux Falls, $2.66 in Minneapolis-St. Paul and $2.62 in Duluth.
However, there was a wide range of prices in some cities. Duluth had the biggest variance, with one station going as low as $2.37.
At other regional destinations, the lowest price in Bismarck was found at $2.57 and $2.53 in Rapid City, S.D., according to gasbuddy.com.
“Once you get out of Fargo, the prices go up,” Ladoucer said.
He pointed out that the North Dakota average is about 18 cents per gallon below the national average.