That giant container ship was finally freed in the Suez Canal earlier today, unclogging a vital trade artery which might mean a slight drop in gasoline prices in Iowa.

Over the past few weeks, gas prices have been creeping upward in many Iowa communities, but not just because of the grounded ship. Nick Jarmusz, spokesman for AAA-Iowa, says the reasons for the recent rise are pretty straightforward.

“The simplest way to explain it is actually that we’re beginning to get back to normal in a lot of ways,” Jarmusz says. That’s “normal” in both demand for gasoline and in our travel habits.

A year ago, droves of Iowans were driving very little as COVID-19 closed down many offices and stores. “The prices we’re seeing now are pretty much right in line with what we’ve seen in the last two, three years, before last year,” he says. It’s simple supply and demand, as more people are now driving, the gas prices will rise. The prices may seem high, but Jarmusz says they’re really not that inflated compared to where prices were before coronavirus arrived.

“You can’t forget that a year ago,” he says, “we were experiencing an unprecedented drop in demand, as people were staying home and off the roads in huge numbers.”

The statewide average price for gas is $2.76 a gallon. A year ago, Iowa’s average price was $2.80. Dubuque now has the most expensive gas at $2.90 a gallon, while Davenport has the cheapest at $2.71.