Minnesota motorists can feel more refined this holiday weekend as they head down the highway fueled by $3.49 a gallon gasoline.
Oil refinery shutdowns that produced a price spike at the pump a year ago are safely in our rear view mirror. In fact, the Associated Press reports no state has seen gas prices fall as much as the 78 cent drop in Minnesota's average per gallon cost.
At this time last year there was much grumbling as the state's gas prices reached a record high around $4.30 a gallon. Much of that price surge was attributed to two refineries that serve the region being out of commission simultaneously.
Now those refineries are equipped to handle cheaper crude oil coming in from Canada, the AP says, and they're pumping out more gasoline than they previously were.
That's a key reason the Midwest has the country's lowest prices. Nationwide the $3.64 average for a gallon of gas is nearly identical to the Memorial Day prices of last year and the year before.
Modest gas prices and an improving economy are factors in AAA's prediction that more Americans will take to the roads this weekend than on any Memorial Day holiday since 2005.
While Minnesota's 78 cent price drop from one Memorial Day to the next topped the country, our neighbors were not far behind. KSFY reports North Dakota has seen prices fall 64 cents; Iowa 55 cents; and in South Dakota they're down 42 cents.
Minnesotans headed east might be happy to know that Wisconsin has suspended most of its highway construction projects for the holiday weekend. The Star Tribune reports Minnesota is not following suit. Potential trouble spots include lane closures on Interstate 94 near Monticello and in Otter Tail County and on Interstate 35 near Cloquet.