For years the Dallas area has bee criss-crossed by tollways, and recent road construction costs indicate that there will probably be even more to come. Who would have thought that little old Highway 121 would eventually become a major Dallas tollway? Though normally built for vehicle traffic, downtown Dallas once contained the nation’s shortest toll turnpike… for pedestrians.
What is now a haven of luxury lofts and condos in downtown Dallas, there once used to be a busy cut-through at the corenr of Elm and Pacific Streets, where a small parking lot became a popular shortcut for pedestrians walking to various downtown shops, restaurants and office buildings. After dealing with12 years of human congestion, and foot traffic so bad that it prevented cars from being parked in the lot, owner Elbert Norton had an idea: why not open a pedestrian-only tollway and charge customers 5 cents for each use? After the introduction, almost 100 people per hour took advantage of the new people-parkway on the first day; the short-lived yet unique “Norton’s Turnpike” became a distinctive feature of downtown Dallas on the move.Jeff Lysaught