Gas prices drop below $3.50 a gallon

10:14 PM, Jul 1, 2013   |    comments
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Teresa Jones watches the pump as she puts gas into her car at a Shell station on Pico Blvd in Los Angeles in this 2012 file photo. (Photo: Grant Hindsley AP)

(USA TODAY) -- If cheap gas is considered as patriotic as draping Old Glory in the back window of your pickup truck, the news from the government's oil price watchers couldn't come at a better time.

The price of regular-grade gasoline has fallen below $3.50 a gallon on average nationally just in time for the Fourth of July weekend in the weekly survey by the Energy Information Administration reports.

And it wasn't just a tiny price drop. A gallon of regular fell eight cents during the week from $3.577 to $3.496. That's unusual, given not only that the four-day holiday weekend is coming up, but also because the nation is entering the heart of the summer vacation driving season.

Among regions, the cheapest gas can still be found, as usual, on the refinery-rich Gulf Coast. There, it averaged $3.312 a gallon, down from $3.377 a gallon.

And the pricest? In California, the country's driving Mecca, gas still tops an average of $4 a gallon -- but just barely. It's $4.002 in the survey. On the West Coast in general, including California, gas averages $3.892.

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