we already know, thanks
Ken Hoffman on why you don’t need a study to know Houston traffic stinks
According to several recent studies, get ready for a shocker, Houston has really bad traffic.
They had to conduct studies for this?
Among the findings: according to a Houston Chroniclenumbers crunch, it takes a Houston driver 19 seconds longer to complete a six-mile trip now than it did last year.
The Inrix Global Traffic Scoreboard reports that Houston traffic snarls along at the slowest pace in Texas and ninth-worst in the U.S. And it’s not just a rush hour thing — pop-up traffic jams are unpredictable 24/7 in Houston.
TomTom says that Houston drivers waste away 56 hours stuck in traffic that they’ll never get back every year. That’s an increase of four hours over 2022.
You know, they coulda just asked me, or you, or anybody who needs to get somewhere in Houston by car.
Example: Let’s say you have a ticket for a 6 pm flight out of Bush-Intercontinental. What time do you leave for the airport: 4 pm? 2 pm? noon? A week ago last Thursday?
I learned my lesson about Houston traffic within 48 hours of getting here. You can’t beat the traffic. You can only minimize the stress and mental anguish of sitting on I-10, not moving, and there’s no way you’re getting to the Astros game before the third inning.
I drove into Houston for the first time in my life on a Saturday — two days before I was starting my new job at the old Post (now Chronicle) building on the corner of 610 and the Southwest Freeway.
I pulled my cool Mazda station wagon with a U-Haul trailer hooked on the back into a Holiday Inn on I-10. I called one of those apartment finder services to help me find a place fast. The next morning, we met at a rental on Westview Drive near Gessner. There was a Dairy Queen a few blocks down on Westview, a good omen.
I said to Mister Apartment Finder, I’ve heard that Houston traffic can be horrible. I have to be a work at 9 am Monday. How long is the drive? He said, let’s get in the car and find out. Totally serious, it took us maybe 10 minutes. It didn’t register with me that was Sunday morning, the weather was perfect, and the freeways, I-10 to 610 to the Southwest Freeway, were wide open.
The next morning, just to play it safe and impress my new bosses, I left my place at 8:30 am. That’d get me to my desk a few minutes before start time. I’m such a go-getter.
Monday morning was rainy. I finally arrived for my first day on the job close to 10 am, almost an hour late. Houston traffic 1, me 0.
Let me look at that lease, how soon can I get out of this place? Sure, I’ll miss the Chocolate X-treme Blizzards at Dairy Queen but I’m not spending 10 hours in traffic every week. I moved into a 600 square-foot bungalow in West University where I could walk to work (if I had to, but never did).
Now that I’m a well traveled, though still winless, veteran of Houston traffic, I do have a few insider tips for newcomers.
If you can’t get there by driving Westpark, you don’t need to be there. And I never take San Felipe because I’m still not sure how to pronounce it correctly.
I avoid highways at all cost. For a couple of years, I made twice-weekly drives to San Antonio to watch the Trinity University baseball team. I’d figure, if I leave at 1 pm, I should avoid the worst traffic on both ends. Then I’d be stuck in gridlock by the Katy Mills Mall. I never follow Google Maps or Waze.
And you’re really asking for trouble if you drive on Holcombe through Southside Place, especially on school days. They practically have all-day school zone hours. True story, I once got a ticket for speeding in a school zone on a day when school was closed for Thanksgiving vacation. I beat the ticket, but I had to bring a printout of the school’s calendar and waste a couple of hours in traffic court – like I was the one who didn’t know that school speeding zones only apply when school’s actually in session. Duh!
-----What are your tips for avoiding traffic around town? Let Ken know at email@example.com or on X at @KenCultureMap.