March 2012 Archives

Station Owners Hate Higher Gas Prices?

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I have hard reactions to the higher gas prices range from resignation to outrage. On the outrage side, some people seem to believe that greedy oil companies are in total control and have decided to screw us all or that greedy local station owners are in total control and out to get us all.

I can't address the oil company question, though what reading I've done of comments by industry observers tells me the prices we see at the pump are the result of a complex series of influences. But I have a little insight into the local market.

I once did some research into the business on a local level, and one station owner told me something interesting: he makes more money when gas is $2 a gallon than at $4 a gallon.

The reason? There are three.

Higher prices mean people buy less gas. Simple.

Higher prices don't mean bigger profits per gallon. His margins are about the same. That means when people buy less gas because of higher prices, he makes less money.

Higher prices mean people make different choices on how they spend their money, and they tend to decide at the pump to pay for gas but not to go inside the convenience for a treat.

I was surprised when the gas station owner told me he hates higher gas prices. But his reasons make sense.

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MDOT Will Show Hastings Residents Planned Construction

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A public meeting is scheduled for tonight (Wed. 3/28) in Hastings that will give you a chance to get advance word on how construction on M-43 and M-37 will affect you.

The project is scheduled from mid-April through November, so this is no small repaving project:

Replace M-43 bridge over the Thornapple River
Reconstruct M-43 from M-37/State Street downtown to the northern Hastings city limits
Rebuild M-37 south from State Street, west on Green Street to Hanover Street
Cost: $5 million

The meeting is today at Hastings City Hall 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Representatives from MDOT will be on hand.

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Is The Gas Price Ceiling $3.99?

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Gas-3-dollars-01-15-11.jpgThere were a number of news stories last week about rising gas prices. The stories made it look like gas had risen to $3.99 all of a sudden, even though we have seen the price top out at $3.99 several times in the past month. 

This is not to deny that prices in places like Chicago and the urban areas of the West Coast are not above four dollars, but these were local stories. It seemed to be like a lot of the kind of hype we in the media are accused of on a regular basis.

On Saturday, I saw gas at $3.93. Right.

Today (Sunday), the lowest price is $3.92.

(The picture here was taken January 15, 2011.)

Where will prices go this week? In the Gas Game blog, Ed Aboufadel predicts it will drop to $3.89. Or it will rise to $4.09. Right.

Aboufadel wonders, however, whether $3.99 is a psychological price barrier, and I think he's onto something. Back in 2008, when summer gas prices sailed well above four dollars around West Michigan, sales of high gas mileage rides like SUVs tanked. But, strangely enough, by Election Day, the price was $1.79. I don't believe anything like that will happen this year.

But one has to wonder what it will take for the $3.99 barrier to fall.

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A New Grand River Bridge Taking Shape

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M-231 Grand River Bridge concept.jpgHow many years have we heard discussions about the US-31 Bypass?

Concrete and steel (and jobs) are replacing all the talk.

(Right: Concept image from MDOT of the M-231 bridge over the Grand River.)

The highway will be called M-231, and the first steps in the project are taking place on the Grand River in Robinson Township between 120th Avenue and 128th Avenue.

This week, beams will be placed on the south bank of the river as part of the bridge construction. Cedar Drive will be closed between 120th Avenue and 128th Avenue from Wednesday (3/7) 7 a.m. until Thursday (3/8) 5 p.m., then again next Monday (3/12) 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to MDOT and the Ottawa County Road Commission.

Depending on the weather, of course.

A number of presentations have been made to the public on how this project will change the shape of a number of roads. This year, expect construction on I-96 in the Nunica area and on M-104 at I-96. (See presentation maps from 2010.)

Ah, Memories ....

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January 11, 2011. Gas-304-011111.jpg

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