2018 kicks off with most expensive gas prices since 2014 for Oregonians

AP photo

Have you been feeling a little more pain at the pump than usual?

You're not alone: Oregon drivers are paying the highest prices for gasoline at the start of 2018 since 2014, when gas cost more than $3 a gallon, according to new data from AAA.

It's especially tough in Oregon now due to the four cent increase in gas tax, which was approved as part of the $5.3 billion transportation funding package that was approved last year.

The national average is currently $2.48, while Oregon's is $2.78 and Portland's is $2.82.

But there is some good news. AAA believes gas prices will drop since demand is higher during the holiday season.

"The record-breaking travel volume over the holidays sent pump prices climbing as we wrapped up 2017. AAA expects pump prices to trend lower this month as demand drops,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

The Oregon Department of Transportation says it doesn't expect the increased gas tax to have much of an impact on drivers' habits, so people shouldn't expect any immediate congestion relief.

This gas tax is the first of four gas taxes Oregonians could see over the next six years. A two cent tax increase will be triggered in 2020 if ODOT hits performance benchmarks.

"That shows the public how we're spending money and how effective we were in actually being able to deliver projects, and what that means for the transportation system in terms of conditions on our roads and bridges," said Travis Brouwer, ODOT's assistant director.

A 2013 study by the American Society of Civil Engineers found 11 percent of Oregon's roads were in poor conditions. ODOT says the new tax revenue should help the state improve upon that.

"Fewer pot holes, our bridges will be in better condition, and so hopefully you'll see that we have a thriving economy because of some of these investments," Brouwer said.

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