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Gas prices climbing back toward $3 a gallon

Staff Photos: Jonathan Phillips. Heidi Shape fills up her car's gas tank at the Texaco station at the corner of Spalding Drive and Medlock Bridge Road in Norcross on Wednesday. Gas prices have started to creep back up from where they were this time last year by almost a dollar.

Staff Photos: Jonathan Phillips. Heidi Shape fills up her car's gas tank at the Texaco station at the corner of Spalding Drive and Medlock Bridge Road in Norcross on Wednesday. Gas prices have started to creep back up from where they were this time last year by almost a dollar.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Bob Herrington remembers when he could fill up his car, get it washed and grab a pack of cigarettes for $5.

Those days are long gone, the Snellville man said, cleaning the windows of his Ford F-150 as he pumped gas Wednesday.

Now it takes more than $50 just to fill up the truck.

"I don't think you'll ever see prices go below $1.50 (a gallon) again," he grumbled.

Gas prices have gone up 9 cents in the past week, to an average of $2.679 a gallon for regular unleaded in Georgia, AAA's fuel gauge report said. The price is up nearly 20 cents from a month ago and $1 more than this time last year.

But Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, said her group doesn't believe the prices will spike as high as some have predicted.

Brady said the usual summer surge could hit $3 a gallon, but where some have said the prices will remain high, AAA expects them to go back down.

This winter's spike, she said, has been unusual. Demand remains low, although she said holiday travel was higher in 2009 than a year before.

But the recent cold snap has meant a big demand for crude oil and natural gas for heat. That, along with the weakening of the U.S. dollar, drove gas prices up, but she said the number should drop soon.

Herrington didn't buy that argument.

"Right now, I still think they are trying to get as much profit as they can," he said. "They got you right where they want you."

The retiree said he has cut his driving in half because of the high prices. He has consolidated trips and even permanently parked one of his vehicles.

Rosaria Delicruc, of Lawrenceville, said the high prices have also affected her driving habits. She only stops at certain gas stations to try to save money.

"I like to go places close to home," she added.