Houston Labor Day Traffic Narrowly Escapes Top Ten Worst Nationwide

Worst congestion expected around Hobby Airport

Aug 28, 2012, 11:00 ET from INRIX

HOUSTON, Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Every Labor Day, millions of Americans hit the road for one "last" summer weekend, and 2012 will be no different according to INRIX, the leading provider of traffic information.  Through in-depth analysis of recent traffic patterns in the metro area, INRIX predicts that Houston, ranked as the twentieth-most congested city in the U.S.,[1] will claim the number eleven spot for the worst cities for weekend road-trippers.

"Recent traffic trends combined with a resurgence in consumer spending indicates travelers will be a little less afraid to spend money on gas and hotels, so we're predicting some delays as travelers head to the airport or drive out of town for Labor Day," said Jim Bak, INRIX Director of Community Relations.  "Traffic Friday will look like a heavier version of a normal Friday rush hour, meaning slightly longer delays.  Travelers thinking they'll avoid extra traffic by waiting for Saturday to depart will have better luck if they get on the road in the morning, as traffic will pick up around noon and peak between 12 and 1 p.m."

Key insights from INRIX's Houston area research include:

  • Traffic will start to build in Houston around 2 p.m. on Friday, August 31, and will peak from 5 to 6 before tapering off.
  • Travelers leaving Houston will have the best luck traveling after 7 p.m. Friday or before lunch Saturday.
  • Hobby Airport-bound travelers should plan for a drive of at least thirty minutes from city center to the terminals.
  • Vacationers looking to get away from traffic and other vacationers should consider heading to the Sam Houston National Forest, which INRIX traffic data indicates is not a popular Labor Day destination.

Given the expected increase in the number of holiday travelers, combined with inevitable road construction and unexpected delays due to accidents and other incidents, Bak advises travelers to use free tools like the INRIX Traffic app, to help ease drivers' getaway trips with up-to-the-minute information about traffic conditions and travel times.

Additional information about traffic delays heading to popular road trip destinations for Houston residents is as follows:


Worst Time to Travel

Best Time to Travel


5 – 6 p.m.

After 7 p.m.


12 - 1 p.m.

Before Noon

Traffic on the outskirts of Houston will build from 2 p.m. on Friday and remain constant along major routes with no obvious peak and no significant disruption.

While traffic in Downtown Houston will be very light on Saturday afternoon, South Freeway towards Angleton and Freeport will be reasonably constant with average speeds of 35mph.

Houston to Galveston, TX
Average speeds of 25mph will delay traffic heading to the William Hobby Airport. However, drivers heading further south will not have to contend with serious congestion during the peak getaway.


I-45 S
(Gulf Freeway)

Length of Journey

52 miles (58 minutes)

Worst Corridor

From University of Houston to William Hobby Airport

Average Speed

41 mph

Friday Travel Time w/Traffic

1 hour 14 minutes

Houston to Bryan/College Station, TX
Traffic is reasonably light both ways along this route. The only obvious pain point is traffic leaving Houston, on the approach to the I-610, where speeds will slow to 25 mph.


US-290 W and TX-6 N

Length of Journey

96 miles (1 hour 45 minutes)

Worst Corridor

Along Kate Freeway to 610 interchange

Average Speed

44 mph

Friday Travel Time w/Traffic

2 hours 10 minutes

Houston to Sam Houston National Forest, TX
Traffic runs at almost free flow conditions during the Friday peak along the northbound I-45. INRIX analyzed Saturday traffic patterns, but healthy speeds of almost 50 mph during previous holiday weekends suggest this is not a popular road trip destination.

Austin, TX


I-10 W and TX-71 W

Length of Journey

162 miles (2 hours 54 minutes)

Worst Corridor

No obvious bottleneck

Average Speed

50 mph

Friday Travel Time w/Traffic

3 hours 14 minutes

INRIX® is the largest global traffic intelligence platform in the world, delivering smart data and analytics to solve transportation issues worldwide. INRIX crowd sources data daily from more than 100 million vehicles and devices to deliver traffic and driving-related insight, as well as sophisticated analytical tools and services, across six industries in 31 countries.

With more than 200 customers and partners including Audi AG, ADAC, ANWB, BMW, the BBC, Ford Motor Company, the I-95 Coalition, MapQuest, Microsoft, NAVIGON, Nissan, O2, Tele Atlas, Telmap, Toyota and Vodafone, INRIX's real-time traffic information and traffic forecasts help drivers save time every day.  To experience the traffic technology revolution behind the next generation of transportation, navigation and location-based service applications, visit www.INRIX.com.

[1] As determined by the 2011 INRIX Traffic Scorecard, released May 2012.  For more information, see http://scorecard.inrix.com.