AbstractTraffic congestion has become a significant problem that hinders the proper functioning of the transportation system. Traffic congestion forewarning methods can provide traffic management with accurate congestion prediction information, thus taking timely measures to avoid or alleviate traffic congestion. In this paper, we propose a data-plus-model framework-based expressway congestion forewarning method that can be used in the absence of high-quantity and high-quality data. First, we applied historical traffic flow data to determine the approximate extent of the traffic congestion forewarning and fitted a proper traffic fundamental diagram to characterize the traffic flow. Then, the critical congestion forewarning parameters were obtained according to the slope change of the fundamental diagram. Finally, the proposed method was applied to an expressway section in Beijing to forewarn of traffic congestion with multiday historical traffic data. The experimental results show that the proposed method can effectively analyze the trend of traffic flow accurately and quickly give early forewarning of congestion, which is helpful in reducing the occurrence and persistence of congestion.