The news on the gas price front is not good for Jersey drivers. Those higher gas prices we have been seeing are likely to hang around until spring.

The average in New Jersey is $2.63. The average in the country is $2.54. In both cases, somewhere in the neighborhood and 20 to 25 cents above last year.

But hold on to your steering wheels! Tom Kloza, analyst with the Oil Price Information Service, warns pump prices will scream higher this spring, driven by crude oil speculators.

How high at the retail gasoline level? Kloza guesses we could get to $2.85-a-gallon.

"We are not going back to the 2011 to 2014 period, where gasoline prices were commonly anywhere from 3 to $3.75."

Another factor will be the shutdown of the Bayway refinery in Linden for maintenance in February, which will do nothing to help already higher prices.

What impact will all of these soaring prices have on driver demand? Kloza says "that is a good question."

"People almost have an internal thermostat when it comes to gas prices. They will change behaviors when it is 30 or 40 cents higher than it was a year ago. Most of the smart money is betting that demand will not be hurt by prices."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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