Every Labor Day, millions of Americans hit the road for one "last" summer weekend, and 2012 will be no different, according to traffic information provider INRIX. Through in-depth analysis of recent traffic patterns in the metro area, INRIX predicts that Houston, ranked as the 20th-most congested city in the U.S., will claim the No. 11 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:
Day Worst Time to Travel Best Time to Travel
--- -------------------- -------------------
Friday 5 - 6 p.m. After 7 p.m.
------ ---------- ------------
Saturday 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.
Route I-45 S
Length of Journey 52 miles (58 minutes)
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