Post hurricane, Lawrence gasoline prices highest in the state; Casey’s files plans for Sixth Street store

Courtesy: City of Lawrence

When you look at the scenes of destruction in Texas, you realize we probably don’t have nearly as much to complain about as we think we do. Yet, Lawrence residents likely still will complain about gasoline prices. Indeed it does appear that Hurricane Harvey’s impact on the fuel markets is being felt more in Lawrence than in many area communities.

I have reported on this before: There is something mysterious that happens between Lawrence and Eudora. You seemingly enter a different dimension when it comes to gasoline prices. It is not uncommon for the Kwik Shop in Eudora to sell gasoline quite a bit cheaper than the Kwik Shop just about five miles down the road at 23rd and Harper. But today, the difference is as stark as I’ve seen it in some time. Gasoline is selling for 20 cents a gallon cheaper at the Eudora Kwik Shop than at Lawrence Kwik Shops. The low-grade unleaded gasoline is selling for $2.47 a gallon in Eudora versus $2.67 a gallon in Lawrence.

A quick check of the gasoline tracking website by AAA shows that Lawrence indeed is selling gasoline quite a bit higher than the national average. The site shows the national average at $2.51 a gallon. Lawrence’s average, according to the site, is $2.59 per gallon, although nearly all the gasoline stations on East 23rd Street were higher than that this morning.

It is not that way throughout Kansas, though. The statewide average for gasoline is $2.41 a gallon.

Obviously, the hurricane and resulting flooding have had a large increase on gasoline prices across the country, as several refineries have had to stop production. The $2.51 national average is the highest price of the year.

Closer to home, Lawrence finds itself in a familiar position: It has the highest priced gasoline of all the Kansas metro areas tracked by AAA. Here’s a look:

• Lawrence: $2.59 per gallon, up 13 cents from prior day average

• Kansas City, Kan.: $2.57 per gallon, up 10 cents from prior day average

• Wichita: $2.44 per gallon, up 6 cents from prior day average

• Topeka: $2.37 per gallon, up 7 cents from prior day average

• If I truly understood gasoline prices, I would be writing this column from my yacht. Regardless, everybody speculates about why gasoline prices are consistently higher in Lawrence, although I’ve never found a definitive answer. In the past we have noted the number of gas stations per capita is a bit lower in Lawrence than in Topeka, for instance. That would have an impact on supply and demand. I would also note that Lawrence gas prices aren’t really that much different from the Kansas part of the KC metro area. We have a lot of Lawrence residents who commute to Kansas City. If the majority of our commuters went to Topeka, which consistently has low gasoline prices, that may put some downward pressure on Lawrence prices.

One other theory that will be put to the test involves our mix of gasoline retailers. One key difference between the Lawrence and Eudora gasoline markets, for example, is that Eudora has a Casey’s store. Lawrence does not. The Eudora Kwik Trip always matches the price of Casey’s.

As I reported earlier this week, it sure looks like Casey’s is planning to open a station on Sixth Street in Lawrence. I’ve now got new information that makes it look more likely. Casey’s has now filed a site plan with the city to build at 1703 and 1711 W. Sixth St., which includes the site of the old College Motel and the repair shop Action Automotive.

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The plans filed at City Hall call for about $2.5 million worth of construction to build an approximately 4,800-square foot convenience store with eight gasoline pumps that would accommodate a total of 16 vehicles.

As we reported earlier this week, Casey’s may be a bigger than expected player in the pizza market. We’ll see what if any impact it has on the gasoline market. Here’s a look at some of the plans and renderings filed with the city.

Courtesy: City of Lawrence

Courtesy: City of Lawrence