I would travel straight through Maryland, because it was always more expensive,’

says Ronald Wyatt, 56, of Virginia, who stopped to get gas Friday in Rio Grande, Middle Township, not ready for higher gas taxes. See a video at

PressofAC.com

. Ronald Wyatt, 56, of Virginia, has visited Cape May for 53 years. As he stopped to get gas at a Rio Grande, Middle Township gas station on Friday, he said he is not used to paying New Jersey’s higher gasoline prices.

Brian Ianieri / staff writer

Out-of-state visitors may see sticker shock at the gas pumps this summer.

Garden State residents have had five months to grow accustomed to the state’s higher gasoline tax, which rose 23 cents Nov. 1.

New Jersey’s gas prices are up 3 cents from last week, for an average of $2.44. The national average of unleaded gas was $2.42, up from $2.29 a month ago. Last year, gas prices averaged $2.11 per gallon.

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Longtime shore visitors, such as Randall Wyatt, of Virginia, aren’t used to New Jersey’s gas being among the more expensive in the U.S.

“I would travel straight through Maryland, because it was always more expensive,” said Wyatt, 56, a pastor who has come to Cape May for 53 years. “And I could come to New Jersey and get comparable prices for that in Virginia or even a little cheaper.”

His story illustrates a quirk of South Jersey’s tourism economy — changes that happened months ago may be new to throngs of visitors less familiar with New Jersey politics or tax structures.

New Jersey raised the gas tax to pump money into the depleted Transportation Trust Fund, which is designed to pay to fix and build bridges, roads and rail infrastructure.

The tax vaulted New Jersey from the among the lowest gasoline prices in the U.S. to the 16th highest, according to data compiled by retail tracking site GasBuddy.com.

Virginia gas is about 20 cents cheaper than New Jersey’s now.

Contact: 609-272-7253 BIanieri@pressofac.com Twitter @bianieri

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