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Illinois drivers flock to Wisconsin as gas prices continue to rise

Posted at 4:07 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 19:32:48-04

PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wisc. — A gas station near the stateline in Pleasant Prarie is filled with Illinois license plates and drivers filling up.

"I have noticed it is a lot higher on the Illinois side, so I pretty much always come to Wisconsin,” said Tim Perkins who lives in Zion, Illinois.

People driving cars with Illinois license plates are seen at a Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin station.

"Its only a 10 minute drive and saves 50 cents, sometimes 75 cents a gallon, so it's worth my while,” said Mike Phillips from Waukegan, Illinois, who also drives for the ride-share app Lyft.

Right now, in Wisconsin the average price in the state is $4.02 a gallon.

The average in Illinois is at $4.56 a gallon. However, the highest in the country goes to California at a whopping $5.74.

Phillips says with his job, he is getting by.

"You just have to live with it,” said Phillips.

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So exactly how much is that jump costing people? A month ago, according to AAA in Wisconsin, the average price of gas was at $3.24. Today, it is $4.02. That's a difference of 78 cents. If you multiply that by 14 gallons, which is the average gas tank for a midsize sedan, that means you're paying an extra $10.92 a week. That is almost $44 more a month and about $568 more a year.

Marquette University economist Abdur Chowdhury is not sure how much higher gas prices will rise.


"It's difficult to speculate, because at this point, it depends what's happening to the Russian-Ukraine crisis. If that crisis continues, then we will see an increase in gas prices at the pump. I wouldn't be surprised if it hits $5 sometime in the next couple of weeks."

Chowdhury says at that point, the federal government may step in to try to lower costs by doing things like dropping the federal gas tax or opening up the strategic reserve. But, he says for the average person, the biggest thing they can do is drive less.

That is not an easy choice for Phillips who makes his living by driving, but he says he is already considering it.

"Instead of driving five or six days a week, I will probably just do maybe three days a week, half of what I would normally do,” said Phillips. "I won't make as much money, but I won't have as much wear and tear on my car and I will save a little bit on gas money."

As for when we could see relief at the pump, Chowdhury says even if the conflict in Ukraine ends immediately, it will take some time.

Some analysts are predicting weeks, if not months, more of high prices.

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