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Keep Dallas Observer Free
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You Can Now Ride Free on the Tollway. All You Have to Do is Nearly Die in a War.

The North Texas Tollway Authority has made headlines of late for slapping outrageous fees on civilians and veterans alike, publicly shaming them, then threatening to sue and boot their cars. But really, the agency wants you to know, it's not the bogeyman some people make it out to be. It's always looking to do something positive for the community, not to mention soften its image.

Hence Thursday's announcement of a partnership between the NTTA and Volvo of Dallas (which is actually in Frisco) to cover the tolls of Legion of Valor honorees. That doesn't just apply to the Dallas North Tollway, but to President George Bush Turnpike, the Sam Rayburn Tollway, the Lewisville Lake Toll Bridge, the Addison Airport Tunnel, the Mountain Creek Lake Bridge, the future Chisolm Trail and other tollways throughout Texas.

It's a generous offer, but not so generous as it might sound at first. To be inducted into the Legion of Valor, you almost have to die. In a lot of cases, you actually do have to die, since the award is often given posthumously. Needless to say, it's an elite group, comprising all 2,500 or so veterans who have won the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, or the Air Force Cross since the Civil War.

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An Observer article from 2008 counted 11 Legion of Valor members living in North Texas, a number that has since grown.

"We list 12 recipients in North Texas," said NTTA spokesman Michael Rey.

They have special license plates attached to a toll tag account. The partnership is expected to cost $7,000 through 2014. There was no word on whether customers' debt will be forgiven if they become a war hero after racking up thousands of dollars in tolls, but I'm sure they could work something out. By the way, Kim Gatlin, have you ever thought of a career in the military?

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