Even though the prices have had a pre-Memorial Day spike, gas remains a bargain in Oklahoma.

According to the American Automobile Association, Oklahoma has the third cheapest pump prices in the country heading into the Memorial Day weekend.

Sooners are paying an average of $2.23 per gallon for unleaded regular. In Miami, most stations posted prices at $2.25 — a jump of almost a dime from Wednesday.

According to the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report (www.fuelgaugereport.com) Thursday afternoon, in Tulsa, regular was $2.16 a gallon and $2.24 in Oklahoma City. Prices at both cities were up a nickle from Wednesday.

Pump prices are averaging about $1.50 less than a year ago, AAA says.

Arizona has the nation’s cheapest gas at $2.17 a gallon and it’s $2.19 in Missouri.

The national average on Thursday was $2.36, an increase of three cents a gallon from Wednesday.

AAA Oklahoma says lower gas prices and an abundance of travel bargains means 6.1 percent more Oklahomans are expected to travel over the long holiday weekend compared to Memorial Day 2008.

The auto club estimates 552,800 Oklahomans will travel 50 or more miles from home over the holiday, 86 percent of them by motor vehicle.

"Oklahoma’s highways will be busy places over the long Memorial Day weekend with seven percent more traffic expected this year compared to last year," said Chuck Mai, a spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. "The number of Oklahomans who will be flying to their destination this year is due to increase 1.3 percent, to 79,000 people."

AAA predicts a 1.5 percent increase in Memorial Day travel nationwide this year with approximately 32.4 million travelers taking to the road, the air or the rails. Last year, 31.9 million Americans traveled during the same period; a dramatic decline from the 35.3 million travelers who vacationed in 2007.

Eighty-three percent of all traveling Americans will get there by car or pickup, seven percent will fly and the rest will take a train, bus or boat.

In contrast to the nearly 2.6 percent increase in trips by personal automobile nationwide, trips by air will decline by 1 percent, AAA said.  

"Last year, soaring gas prices and a deteriorating economy resulted in far fewer trips being taken than had been forecasted," said Mai. "This year, sharply lower gasoline prices and plentiful travel bargains have us feeling better about taking a road trip, which in turn will help tourism-based economic activity throughout the nation. Approximately one in seven Americans is employed directly or indirectly by the hospitality and travel industry."

The average distance traveled by Americans this Memorial Day holiday weekend is forecast to be approximately 620 miles. However, in Oklahoma and the west south central part of the U.S., the figure is projected to be 830 miles.