Labor day gas prices dipping under $2 per gallon

Just in time for Labor Day Weekend road trips, gas prices are dropping. Some of it is historical, the glut of oil and the Chinese lowering prices all contribute.

Collection of vintage gas pumps, reminding us of those thrilling days of yesteryear when filling the tanks of our vintage, V-8 battle tanks was never an issue of money. (Image via Wikipedia)

RESTON, Va., September 4, 2015 – Many residents in the Northern Virginia will get a pleasant surprise this weekend when they pulled up to their local service stations to fill up their tanks. For the first time ever—or so it seemed—gas prices broke below the $2 per gallon mark for regular, at least in cities like Fredericksburg and Winchester.

Some other states are experiencing similar price drops.

Last Sunday evening, according to, the current price-at-the-pump winner in the Metro DC area was the Valero station at 11625 Brock Rd. & Plank Rd. in Fredericksburg. Their incredible per-gallon price: an astounding $1.92 for regular. Shades of the 1960s, or almost. Nearly as good: other Fredericksburg Valeros, the Walmart at 1800 Carl D Silver Parkway and the Gulf station at 2120 Plank Road near Altoona Drive. These stations all weighed in at $1.94.

As of this writing, the Costco in Winchester has also broken the two-buck barrier, currently charging $1.99 per gallon for regular. No one else in Winchester has caught up to them quite yet, but the Murphy Express at 111 Farrow Dr. & Maranto Manor Dr. is closing in at a mere $2.06 per gallon.

Closer in to the DC metro area, prices are a greatly to moderately higher, as one might expect, particularly given the small but noticeable amount of extra gas tax northern Virginia municipalities have been tacking on  for years to help fund Metro maintenance and construction of the new Silver Line out to Dulles Airport and beyond.

Close-in Arlington’s Sunday price winner is the Liberty station at 5618 Lee Highway and N. Kensington Street, clocking in Sunday evening at $2.31 per gallon. The Shell at 5630 Lee Highway and N. Kensington Street and the nearby BP at 5601 Lee Highway & N. Jefferson are currently asking $2.33.

At least three stations across the river in suburban Maryland are slightly better than that, an unusual happening in the People’s Republic. Freestate at 510 Hungerford Dr. & N. Washington St., Sunoco at 1469 Rockville Pike near Templeton Place and Gulf at 801 Hungerford Dr. & Frederick Avenue all advertise regular at $2.32 per gallon.

A big surprise: at least two stations in the normally overpriced District of Columbia beat both inner ‘burbs. Both the Costco at 2431 Market St. NE near Fort Lincoln Drive NE and the Citgo at 3820 Minnesota Ave. NE & Blaine St. NE are currently charging $2.29 for regular.

For whatever reason, this writer’s current hometown, the ever-growing, tech-centric northern Virginia suburb of Reston, Va. − located between Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport − is continuing its recent tradition of pump prices that have been persistently way above average.

Four Reston service stations currently offer regular gas for the low, low price of $2.69 per gallon. Apparently this small cartel figures regular would be nice at twice the price, so we should be grateful out here. Most of these outfits have been regularly gouging already gouged Reston consumers for upwards of a dime more per gallon than other jurisdictions, and they’ve been doing it for the better part of 2015.

Even so, it’s not entirely clear why Reston residents are currently paying some 50 cents more per gallon than their closer-in neighbors or even the District, when these jurisdictions (with the usual exception of Arlington) are often just as high if not higher. Could it possibly be that Reston’s service stations’ outrageously out-of-line pricing has driven residents to top off in other locales, meaning that Reston’s service station tanks are still filled with more expensive fuel they bought several weeks ago?

Even toney neighboring Vienna, Va., has at least one service station (the Shell at 2530 Cedar Lane & Park Street) that’s currently selling a gallon of regular for $2.60 per gallon.

Perhaps this is the week when Reston residents should start haranguing area purveyors of gasoline to get with the program, particularly considering the past week’s epic drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil. And note to service station owners or franchisees: if you’re still stuck with overpriced inventory, here’s a little hint for changing the algorithm: have you ever heard of that secret word spelled S-A-L-E?

In the meantime, the Prudent Man has chosen a more direct protest against Reston’s way-out-of-line gas prices. He’s refilling his tank out at the Sterling, Va., Costco, not too far distant from grossly overpriced Reston.

The price there: a still quite-astounding $2.15 as of Saturday afternoon. Anyone care to join him?

The price of West Texas Crude (WTI) was jolted upward late last week, back into the neighborhood of $44+ per bbl. when news finally leaked out regarding a Saudi ground assault on ISIS positions in neighboring Yemen, so the drop in pump prices may slow this week, except for Reston, where they’ll probably go back up.

Nonetheless, as soon as that situation gets sorted out, we’d expect another drop below $40 bbl. once again, meaning that fall prices at the pump could end up being this year’s best Christmas present ever.

Except for Reston.

Sit on your inventory, guys. The Prudent Man is spending his gas money elsewhere.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17