A new theoretical approach is described that more accurately predicts the length of queues that will develop when one or more lanes are closed for short-term freeway road work in an urban area. A model was developed that represents the interactions between diversion and traffic queuing on the freeway. The model is based on macroscopic fluid-flow analogies of traffic and a new perspective of the freeway corridor as a section of permeable pipe. Historical traffic volumes on the roadway serve as the primary data input into the model. Unlike other work zone analysis methods, the model presents a rational representation of how traffic queues stabilize upstream of temporary work zone bottlenecks in urban areas. The model can be calibrated to reasonably represent the magnitude of traffic queues developing upstream of actual work zone lane closures on urban freeways in Texas.