Q. What are my chances of getting caught if I don’t pay the toll at the automatic toll booths on the Dallas North Tollway? F.A., Richardson.

A. According to J.W. Dunlap, assistant director of toll for the Texas Turnpike Authority, your chances of being caught are fairly slim, since there is no permanent guard at the automatic toll booths. If you fail to flip your coins into the basket, an alarm rings and the fact that some car illegally entered the highway at a specific time is recorded with the Texas Turnpike Authority (TTA). If the TTA monitors discover a pattern in nonpayment, someone may be sent to apprehend the violator. In other words, if you enter the tollway every day at 7 a.m. and consistently don’t pay, the TTA records will show the pattern, and TTA officials will send someone to wait for you. But this may happen four or five times before action is taken. Dun-lap says that, in turnpike lingo, the Dallas North Toll-way is an “open road” and is operated by the honor system. In order to speed up the traffic flow, passage gates aren’t used, and despite what some people think, there are no hidden cameras recording license plate numbers of violators. The chances of getting caught are greater during peak traffic hours, when TTA officials randomly patrol the tollway. If caught, violators can be taken to jail and fined up to $100. “Ninety-nine percent of the people [who use the tollway] are honest,” Dunlap says. “It’s not fair to all the people who pay the toll when one renegade runs through.” Dunlap says he has no statistics on the frequency of tollway violations.

Q. Whenever a low-flying helicopter circles my neighborhood, does it always mean that a criminal is on the loose? S.Z., University Park.

A. Fortunately, no. There A., are a lot of low-flying helicopters in the Dallas skies. If it’s a police helicopter, it may be in pursuit of a robbery suspect or, sometimes, aiding patrolmen in a chase. Once in a while, helicopters are used for rescue maneuvers during disasters such as apartment fires. But often helicopters are used in search of missing persons or lost children. Of course, the police aren’t the only ones who use them. They share the air with private helicopter, TV news helicopters and the helicopters of several radio stations that give blow-by-blow accounts of traffic problems.

Q. I heard that the sculp-ture atop the Repub-licBank building was placed there during the early Fifties to make the Republic building the tallest in Dallas, but that it came just a few feet short of the record. Is this true? If not, why was it put there? T.T., Dallas.

A. James H. Young, vice president, assistant secretary of Republic of Texas Properties Inc., says the only reason the pylon was erected was to “draw attention to downtown and to the building.” The 36-story building was completed in 1954, and the fixture was placed there as “a design element that blended with the overall structure of the building,” Young says. Its construction had nothing to do with breaking records. Usually, the fixture is lighted, but because of technical difficulties, it was dark this summer. If all goes as planned, the pylon will be lighted again this month.

Q. How old is the Dr Pepper building at the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Greenville Avenue? Is it a historical landmark? M.C., Oak Cliff.

A. The Dr Pepper build-ing, which is not a historical landmark, was completed in 1948. Recently, the Dallas City Council approved an ordinance giving the Dr Pepper signs historical designation. Though the building is an example of art deco architecture, the people at Dr Pepper have no plans at this point to have the building declared a historical landmark. Jim Ball, director of public relations for Dr Pepper, says the building “contains the last vestiges of art deco” in Dallas. The exterior of the building is approximately 20 percent glass bricks; when it was built, its tower was the second tallest landmark in Dallas County (the tallest was the Mercantile building). Construction of the building began in 1944, on what had been part of the Caruth family farm. The building was expanded in 1975, retaining the original art deco motif. Today the building serves as Dr Pepper’s corporate headquarters, although some syrup is still made on the premises.


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