Finally, gas prices are doing what they typically do this time of year — drop.
After uncharacteristically climbing after the holidays, prices are trending downward. GasBuddy is reporting that the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded plummeted more than 10 cents in Texas during the week ending Saturday. The average slid about 8 cents locally.
The local average was pegging $2.21 a gallon, while the state norm was closer to $2.24, both well below the national average of $2.53 a gallon for regular unleaded, according to statistics provided by GasBuddy.
Bargains were to be had around Greater Waco, with the Sam’s Club in Bellmead charging $2.08 per gallon for regular unleaded, and a couple of Alon outlets posting a price of $2.09 per gallon for regular unleaded.
How long prices will continue to fall is subject of debate, since refineries soon will convert to more expensive summer blends of gasoline that are less prone to evaporate during warm months. Putting refineries out of commission for the conversion and maintenance will temporarily crimp the supply chain, driving up numbers at pumps nationwide.
Long term, attention must be paid to President Donald Trump’s stance on raising the federal tax on gasoline by 25 cents per gallon to generate $200 billion for infrastructure improvements. He is receptive to the idea.
Federal and state levies on gasoline in Texas total 38.4 cents per gallon, well below the national average of 51.97 cents, according to the American Petroleum Institute.
Almost half of U.S. states have raised their gas taxes in the past three years, but the federal gas tax has remained at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993, according to MarketWatch.
The AAA auto club supports a modest increase to the federal gas tax as “policymakers identify alternative funding resources” to maintain and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, according to a statement from AAA Texas spokesman Daniel Armbruster.
“The last gas tax increase was nearly 30 years ago, and finding the next generation solution is long overdue,” Armbruster wrote.
Improving the transportation system will require “a nation of builders, but also a nation of bipartisan leaders,” he said.
Brazos River Authority CEO
David Collinsworth, a regional manager for the Brazos River Authority, has been named general manager and CEO for the Waco-based organization that manages water supplies in the Brazos River basin.
He will succeed Philip J. Ford, who is retiring at the end of March after 17 years of service, according to a Brazos River Authority press release.
“As general manager, Mr. Collinsworth will oversee more than 275 employees in multiple locations throughout the Brazos River basin, while managing the system’s water supply, water treatment projects and water quality initiatives under the direction of the 21-member board of directors,” the press release states.
Collinsworth, a 20-year Brazos River Authority employee, graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a degree in aquatic biology and organic chemistry.
The organization built, owns and operates Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury and Lake Limestone. It also contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to store water in eight other lakes: Lake Whitney, Lake Belton, Proctor Lake, Lake Somerville, Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Granger Lake, Lake Georgetown and Aquilla Lake. The 11 lakes in the Brazos River Authority’s system are spread throughout a 42,000-square-foot-mile river basin in 70 counties.
New Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut is opening a location at 1230 N. Valley Mills Drive, in space at Lakewood Center that became vacant when Smashburger closed.
No word yet on plans for the existing Pizza Hut site elsewhere at 626 N. Valley Mills Drive. Local staffers referred comment to a regional manager who did not return calls Saturday.
Gander Mountain building
The 52,000-square-foot Gander Mountain building at Bagby Avenue and South Valley Mills Drive remains on the market, though it now is under the control of a lender, said Dan Shoevlin, senior vice president of the CBRE real estate office in Austin, who is listing the site for lease.
Shoevelin said in an email response to questions that he continues to show the building. Its original tenant anchored a development by Dallas-based Leon Capital Group.
Meanwhile, construction continues on a 45,000-square-foot Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Richland Mall, with an opening planned “sometime in the spring,” said Stacey Keating, spokeswoman for Tennessee-based CBL Properties, which owns the mall at Waco Drive and State Highway 6.