KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) – The sign some call a dangerous eyesore welcoming drivers into Killeen is gone more than six months after an 18-year-old crashed into the sign and died.
Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra said it was a slow process to have the sign removed once it was made into a make-shift memorial for Julianna Allen, an 18-year-old who died after crashing into the sign back in April.
Segarra said the city was also waiting for authorization from the Texas Department of Transportation to remove the sign. He said the sign belongs to the city, but sits on TxDOT property.
“I go through there and I see that sign and it’s a reminder that we had such a tragic young life lost on it,” Segarra said.
The family of Allen echoed the sentiment Wednesday after learning the sign was removed.
“I’m glad the sign is down. Regardless of how others feel about it, I lost my sister and everyone’s upset about losing a sign. It was a constant reminder for our family of the worst day of our lives. We know the sign isn’t the issue, but if it wasn’t there, then my sister could still be here today,” said Lauren Tilton, Allen’s sister.
The city was cleared to remove the sign Tuesday and now a patch of dirt sits in its place along I-14 just past Rosewood Drive.
Segarra said any plans for a new sign would have to go through City Council, and nothing is on the agenda yet. The City will need approval from TxDOT if it plans to install a new sign elsewhere.
The sign was first approved in 2007 when the stretch of road was considered US Highway 190. Now that it’s an interstate, Segarra said the city may not even be allowed to place a sign elsewhere along I-14.
Segarra said that is good news since he wants the sign in a new location. “We will probably find a better location so something like that doesn’t happen again,” the mayor said.
He expects a new sign to cost a few hundred thousand dollars.
The family of Allen says while they are happy to see the sign gone, they want the public to know their sister was not texting and driving. They say she was on a hands free phone call.
They also say the day she crashed the road was covered in water and hope the city is considering improving drainage to prevent future accidents whether a sign sits there or not.
Written by Megan Vanselow