Sophia Ivory is lucky to be alive to revisit the intersection where she had a serious crash in her Mini two and a half years ago.
The teenager remembers nothing from the June 2018 multi-vehicle smash that could have cost her her life.
Sophia joined Police at the unveiling of the new $10 million roundabout at the notoriously dangerous Dairy Flat Highway / Coatesville Riverhead Highway intersection, as part of Road Safety Week.
“I have absolutely no recollection of [the crash] or of six weeks after, I just know what the police told me,” Sophia says.
“The fact that I was able to go through this and know that now thousands of people will be saved in the future, I’m glad I could make that difference. It’s uplifting knowing that something positive could come out of such a low point in my life. I’m still walking and talking today, and I’m glad I could make a difference that will ultimately save lives.”
Inspector Mike Rickards, who has attended many serious accidents on the busy stretch of road, says to see this intersection’s new roundabout unveiled today is fantastic.
“It’s going to make all our road users safer and it’s been a high-risk area for a long time. It’s going to save lives, I’m absolutely certain of it.”
For the Rodney community, the roundabout has been a long time coming. Serious crashes like Sophia’s drove the community to advocate for the safety improvement work.
The advocacy from Louise Johnston, Rodney Local Board Member, and the wider community included a 1,000-strong petition to Auckland Transport (AT) to lower the speed limit in the area.
This started engagement with the community and identified crucial changes needed to improve driving conditions and safety along Dairy Flat Highway.
“It is difficult to put into words what a massive safety improvement the new roundabout will be for residents,” Louise Johnston says.
“Too many of us have a horror story to tell about Dairy Flat Highway, so it’s an absolute relief that this work has been undertaken and now completed. On behalf of the community, I would like to thank AT for making this happen.”
This work marks a big step forward in AT’s mission towards Vision Zero and AT acknowledges the Rodney community and Louise Johnston for the support.
The approximately $10 million project was co-funded by AT and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. The roundabout is just one improvement, along with right turn bays, centre median safety barriers, side barriers and intersection upgrades.
The speed limit was lowered to the safe and appropriate speed along sections of Dairy Flat Highway last year.
AT’s Group Manager of Network Management Randhir Karma says the work marks another milestone in rolling out safe system improvements to Dairy Flat Highway, supporting AT’s commitment to Vision Zero.
“This stretch of road has seen too many deaths and serious injuries over the past five years and we are pleased to see the completion of this roundabout at one of the highest-risk intersections on Auckland’s road network.”
Waka Kotahi’s Director of Regional Relationships, Steve Mutton, says the work is an important step in the partnership between AT and Waka Kotahi.
“In a Safe System, crashes are inevitable; but deaths and serious injuries are not. It is not acceptable for people to be seriously harmed when using the transport system for their everyday activities. By taking a Safe System approach, and focusing on safe roads and roadsides, safe and appropriate speeds and safe rail level crossings, we work to make roads more forgiving of human error, which will lower trauma rates.”
Safety improvements in Dairy Flat have been made possible due to partial funding from the Regional Fuel Tax (RFT) with $225m allocated to improving road safety in both urban and rural areas, and through Waka Kotahi’s targeted enhanced funding assistance rate (TEFAR) to help councils bring forward new high and very high priority locally-led improvement activities through Road to Zero’s speed and infrastructure programme.