According to the 2021 Urban Mobility Report, Houston now has worse traffic than Los Angles, long known to be the worst in the nation. Houston, and Harris County and the Houston metro area have been on a very long growth spurt as Houston is the nation’s fourth largest city and shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, it is expected to surpass Chicago within the next five to 10 years according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates based on population trends. Houston metro area now has 7.5 million.
The main reason for Houston having more congestion is the massive amount of growth the areas has seen over the last two decades. Despite the state being more than willing to pay for freeway upgrades, improvements and widening efforts, along with new freeways and realignments, the state has had trouble keeping up. TxDOT says it budgets and builds accounting to the population estimates it is given, but the problem is the growth rate keeps increasing beyond the estimates given. Even as Austin has seen a lot of high profile tech companies relocate their offices and headquarters there, the Houston area has received more actual jobs from businesses moving to the area according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The most congested freeway in the state is the West Loop, IH-160 on the west side of Houston running through Uptown and the Galleria area says Texas A&M Transportation Institute. That’s following by IH-35 in the Austin area, then the Southwest Freeway IH-69 in Houston. In fact, 7 of the top 10 most congested freeways in Texas are in the Houston area including Eastex Freeway US59, North Loop, Gulf Freeway IH45, IH-10 east, North Freeway IH-45, and IH-10 Katy Freeway. In fact, of the top 20 most congested freeways in Texas, Houston has 16 of those. There are 21 freeways in Houston and TxDOT is wanting to rebuild IH-45 North from downtown as it is one of the oldest parts of the freeway in Houston and is a chokepoint for much of the traffic from the northern areas of the Houston metro area entering into downtown.
Meanwhile Dallas, while not as bad as Houston’s, still has it’s slow moving traffic to deal with such as the Stemmons Freeway, US 75 and IH-635.
Driver’s in Houston can expect to spent 49 hours a year sitting in traffic. The Houston metro area is the south-east anchor of the much larger megaregion known as the "Texas Triangle", which is home to 21 million residents.