Don't get too used to cheap gas prices

June 22, 2009 12:25:53 PM PDT
Just when you're getting used to those low gas prices, what you pay for gas could be going up, even if the price of oil drops. [FIND CHEAP GAS: Check gas prices at gas stations near you]

Gas prices are lower than we've seen in years, but fewer people are using gasoline and that could mean you will be paying more at the pump. That's because Congress might increase the gasoline and diesel fuel taxes.

The pain at the pump has apparently put a hurt on the highway. As higher gas prices pushed us to drive less or to find more fuel efficient cars, we end up paying less of the gas tax that funds our roadways. Right now, there's not just enough of it anymore.

"It doesn't provide enough revenue to do any of the expansion that we need to do to accommodate traffic," said Raquelle Lewis with TxDOT.

And the issue isn't just confined to the federal gas tax. We're also talking about the amount of money the state collects off of every gallon of gas, and so it means that both could be going up.

A federal committee likely will tell Congress to hike the national gas tax 10 cents per gallon. The Texas tax could also go up. Otherwise, road improvements could come to a screeching halt.

"And what is so important is that supporting the transportation network is critical to the success of our economy," said Lewis. "If the transportation network breaks down, then everything else is going to have a domino effect."

It's an effect that a lot of drivers seem to understand, even if they don't like it.

"If it improved the infrastructure, it wouldn't bother me," said driver Rob Pupelis. "But it depends on the price of gas."

"When we look at the whole nation, we know some of the roads are in dire need of repair," said driver Lotus Hoey.

And while it does add a little pain to the pump, it could mean a little less hurt on the highway.

The current gas tax in Texas totals 38.4 cents per gallon, while 18.4 cents is the federal portion of the tax. Twenty cents goes to the state of Texas.

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