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Cheaper gas, but more are staying home

Gas prices are $1.50 less than last year's Independence Day

Posted: July 3, 2009 9:33 p.m.
Updated: July 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.

People traveling for the holidays cause delays on Interstate 5 Friday afternoon.

 
While the sluggish economy will force some Southern Californians to celebrate the Fourth of July at home, those who are determined to escape the Santa Clarita Valley got an early start as traffic on Interstate 5 piled up Friday morning.

The Automobile Club of Southern California projected a decline in the number of Southland motorists on the road this holiday weekend compared to 2008, according to a press release.

The auto club forecasts 2.3 million motorists will take to the road this weekend compared to 2.38 million that hit the road on Fourth of July weekend in 2008.

Gas prices are $1.50 less this Independence Day weekend compared to the same period in 2008, according to the auto club.

"Prices are dropping very slowly, but they haven't been this low for Independence Day since 2005, when pump prices were averaging about $2.50 a gallon," said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring.

"For the projected 2.3 million Southland car travelers who will take holiday trips this weekend, the gas price decrease - along with numerous travel deals - will give vacationers a lot more for their money this year."

Cheaper gas has done little to encourage some Santa Clarita residents to take to the road this holiday weekend. Blame it on the economy.

Andrew and Gerrie Titcomb, of Valencia, plan to light their grill and invite friends to their home.

"Gas is still expensive," Gerrie said. "So are hotels. Everyone is cutting corners where they can."

The economy and two kids headed to college convinced the Titcombs to keep the party at their Valencia home instead of hitting the road.

"We've cut back on entertainment budget," Andrew said. "We don't go to the movies as much and we're not taking a vacation this year."

The Titcombs said more and more people find themselves making the same decision.

Ang Pascolla, of Valencia, said people's cost-cutting measures extend beyond travel plans.

"I'm hearing of people who are buying hot dogs for their barbecue instead of steaks," he said.

The sliding economy didn't stop everyone from escaping the SCV to points north and south Friday morning.

Traffic crawled through the Newhall Pass choke point where Interstate 5 intersects with Highway 14.

The traffic remained steady for most of Friday.

There will be no construction delays during the holiday weekend as Caltrans suspended work until Monday.

Motorists should expect delays as some businesses and government agencies reopen on Monday, and construction on Interstate 5 and Highway 14 resumes.

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