Originally created 06/30/00

Augustans plan to hit highways



Finding it too difficult to contain their excitement, the Taylor sisters just sat on the floor and waited.

The three youngsters bubbled over with giggles because their mother, Cassandra Taylor, stood at the AAA Auto Club counter on Walton Way Extension buying admission tickets to Six Flags Over Georgia - one stop on a road trip that will end at their relatives' house in Memphis, Tenn. With a plan to roll out with their parents Sunday morning, Mallory, 6, Peyton, 3, and Rachael, 8, said they have been anticipating the trip for weeks.

"I've never been to Six Flags, but I know I want to go on one of the big rides," said the eldest sister, Rachael. "We are going to see my grandmother, too."

Like the Taylors, many Augusta families will be hitting the state's highways for the Fourth of July weekend, despite inflated gas prices that have been the bane of road travel all year. Travel organizations say drivers this weekend are not intimidated by gas prices.

On June 20, the average price for regular unleaded gasoline in Augusta was $1.43 per gallon. In parts of Florida, the cost was $1.64, and as much as $2 in other areas, according to AAA Auto South reports.

"We take this trip every year, and we will go regardless," said Ms. Taylor.

At Avis Car Rental at Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field, the agents had rented 140 vehicles by midday Thursday and expected to rent an additional 160 today to customers planning to take advantage of the four-day weekend.

"On an ordinary day, there are about 45 or 50 rentals," Avis agent Kim Grant said. "People are taking trips to New York, but Florida and Atlanta are the trips that are most popular."

According to AAA Auto Club South, 37.5 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday weekend, the most in 14 years. Of those traveling, 8.1 million are expected to be driving in the Southeast.

"Driving trips are predominant," said Judy Reville, manager of Augusta's AAA Auto South. "People are going to the beaches, and a lot of people aren't going any farther than the lake. We have done a lot of hotel reservations at Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Savannah (and) people going to Disney World."

Southeast gas prices

Motorists will find more than a 10 cent difference between gas prices of Georgia cities and surrounding states. Here are some average costs per gallon for regular unleaded as of June 20:

Atlanta: $1.496 a gallon

Augusta: $1.429 a gallon

Columbus: $1.475 a gallon

Macon: $1.45 a gallon

Marietta: $1.504 a gallon

Savannah: $1.485 a gallon

Memphis, Tenn.: $1.519 a gallon

Orlando, Fla.: $1.585 a gallon

Palm Beach, Fla.: $1.635 a gallon

Source: Augusta's AAA Auto Club South

Reach Clarissa J. Walker at (706) 828-3851.