Global economy, supply, demand affect gas prices

It’s hotter than heck outside and I’m not sure what is worse – having to get out of the car to pump gasoline or the amount we know we’re going to have to pay to fill it up. I can’t do much to explain the weather, except we live in the desert and it’s July. The first question delves into the cost of gasoline.

Guy’s fury is fueled by prices at the pump: I don’t understand why gas prices fluctuate so much in such a short time. It seems like each time a long weekend comes around, the prices go up, then they drop back down. Is there any rhythm or reason to this, or are we just being gouged when it’s known people will be taking road trips?

Well, here we are in the middle of July, when motorists are heading off on vacation and the average price of a gallon of gasoline is actually about 33 cents less than it was a month ago. I understand where you’re coming from, Guy – it does seem like every time you prepare for a long weekend, prices jump. It has a lot to do with the global economy.

This is what AAA had to say about the recent drop in prices: When the world economy weakens, investors shy away from buying crude oil because the demand is lower. What has driven the recent decrease is Europe’s debt issues, a troubling economy in China and “bearish economic data” in the United States, according to Matt Skryja of AAA.

We can expect to see prices rise again as concerns increase about the supply. Skryja said there are a couple of events to keep an eye on. In response to the West’s sanctions on Iranian oil imports, the Iranian government might interfere with distribution of crude oil through the Strait of Hormuz, where a third of the world’s oil is carried by sea. Also workers are on strike at a Norway plant that produces 1.2 million barrels of crude oil a day, according to AAA.

Looking for cheap gasoline? Head to South Carolina, where prices are as low as $2.98 a gallon. Hawaii, of course, is highest at $4.41 per gallon. Our state ranks 14th highest in the nation, according to AAA.

Sam and Symphony: There seems to be some activity near the new Symphony Park. Are you aware of any plans to extend Symphony Park Avenue to downtown?

I haven’t heard of plans to extend the road; that would be an expensive undertaking because the city of Las Vegas would have to build an underpass below the Union Pacific railroad that streaks through the land between The Smith Center for the Performing Arts complex and downtown. There are plans for a link though, Sam. It will require walking, not driving.

The city of Las Vegas will begin construction on a pedestrian bridge between the parking garage at 500 S. Main Street – where the new City Hall is located – and The Smith Center. The city is manufacturing a pre-cast steel bridge that will be slipped into place during the eight-month construction project scheduled to begin next week.

The $4.5 million project also includes a concrete deck, elevators, stairs and landscaping.

Lee wants the lights (so does everybody else in the Sun City Anthem area): What seems like many months ago, you said that the new lights at the intersection of Volunteer and Executive Airport would be working in about two months.  We were just wondering what the latest update might be.

I don’t have much news for you on this, unfortunately, Lee. The city of Henderson really doesn’t know when those signals will be activated because it is dependent on negotiations with a private landowner. I’ve heard from several readers complaining about the bags that cover the signal, saying they have been ravaged so badly by winds that they’re useless.

The city thought it had this resolved after working out a deal that would bring power to the intersection – that is a mostly undeveloped area so it has to lay down the power lines. The property owner agreed to the deal, everybody was thrilled and signals were going to control traffic on those newly improved roads. Then something bad happened – the property owner sold the land and the city was left dealing with an entirely new landowner. And that, Lee, is where we stand.

Joel asks: Any word on when the new flyover linking U.S. Highway 95 and Summerlin Parkway will be finished?

According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, that new high-occupancy vehicle bridge will be open by the end of July. It’s monstrous – 55 feet above the freeway and 730 feet long.

Several readers have brought up concerns about the synchronicity of specific traffic signals around the valley. These are difficult to address because it depends on the time of day – sometimes the sun hits directly on the sensor, throwing it off. Unless it’s a signal completely out of whack, I suggest calling the Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation hotline at 702-432-5300. Engineers will take down specific information and go check it out.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at 702-387-2904, or send an email to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Include your phone number. Also, you can follow her on Twitter @RJ_RoadWarrior.

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