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SAN DIEGO – In San Diego County, prices are climbing at the pump and they’re only expected to go up.

“We’ve seen these gas prices moving higher week after week and the main reason why we’ve seen these pump increases in the shear demand for fuel is more and more people feel comfortable to travel,” said Doug Shupe, a travel expert with AAA of Southern California.

With pent-up travel demand, a gallon of unleaded gasoline is priced about $1.17 more than it was this time last year in San Diego, according to Shupe. The average price right now is $4.26 a gallon.

On Monday in Coronado, a gallon of regular gas was priced at $5.29 a gallon.

“This is like the most shocking thing I’ve ever seen,” said Denver Freeman, who is visiting from Chicago.

At that price, Freeman said it must be liquid gold.

“I think it’s like $3 in Chicago, but like over $5 a gallon, like it’s wild,” Freeman said. “My mom said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ They think it’s a joke, probably.”

Some like Kelvin Ellis only are filling up their tanks halfway since prices are so high.

“I didn’t want to fill it up all the way,” Ellis said. “It’s too expensive.”

“We just got through COVID, so it’d be nice if it was a little bit less for everybody, but it is what it is,” Coronado resident Vida Pohl said.

For a cheaper tank of gas, some are heading to places like Costco. They say the long lines are worth the wait.

But heading into the July 4th holiday weekend, Shupe said high gas prices likely won’t deter travelers from hitting the road.

“In fact, the Auto Club is projecting that there will be 3.3 million people in Southern California taking a trip of 50 miles or more from home from Thursday through Monday,” he said.

Come July 1, Shupe said the state’s incremental gas tax will boost prices six to 12 cents for a tankful of gas.