HAVING to deal with extensive theft and frustrating delays, Rusty’s service station owner Ross McPhee can now relax.

The long awaited reopening of the “iconic” Warrego Highway has been met with a positive reception from truck drivers.

Mr McPhee bought the site four years ago and what was expected to be a 12-month redevelopment ballooned to double that.

“It’s been a long process,” he said.

“It’s been a long journey. It’s a big relief.”

Much of the delay was caused by the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ request to overhaul the exit from the site, which has been the scene of several crashes over the years.

Vehicles are now pushed on to the adjacent Niemeyer Rd, instead of directly back on to the highway, which Mr McPhee said added an extra $600,000 and 10 months of work to the project.

“I was going to build bigger and better but I couldn’t do it because of the (rural) zoning,” he said.

“The second plan was to refurb what we’ve got, so we did. It would have been easier to bulldoze it and go again. We had to keep the facade as part of the development application.

“When cars were shooting out there (from the exit) and someone was turning left on to Niemeyer Rd there was a conflict. We took that conflict away.”

He said truckies enjoyed the new facilities, which included updated toilets, showers, lounge and a revamped menu.

Rusty’s will run 24/7 and be serviced by 16 employees.

Trucks and cars are kept separated with four multi-fuel pumps at the front of the site and four diesel pumps at the rear, with 52 hoses.

“They seem to be enjoying the food because the food sales are good,” Mr McPhee said.

“We’ve had a lot of trucks stay overnight. They can come in and have a shower and have a feed.

“It’s been here since the late ’40s or early ’50s, and it’s always been called Rusty’s. It was an iconic service station. I think in earlier days it was the only one that was virtually between Toowoomba and Brisbane and everyone used to stop in here.”

The Daygold Group director owns another 10 petrol stations, which are mostly based in Brisbane.

Builder John Fazackerley said the work was a long process and he was glad to finally finish up.

“They can pull up here and have a restaurant meal, showers toilets and there’s three-and-a-half acres to park on,” he said.

Theft plagued the project; a security guard stayed onsite at a cost of $70,000.

“Even when it was just sticks and frames, in the middle of the night, some guy came along (on to the site),” Mr McPhee said.

“He said he was looking to buy a coffee (when he was caught).

“It’s not just the theft, then you have to redo (the work). It’s the time it takes as well. If you’ve got something you’ve built and they take it, then you’ve got to rebuild it.”

Mr Fazackerley said even the temporary fencing was stolen.

“They would take materials but then you’ve got 10 blokes showing up for the day to use it,” he said.

Extracted from Queensland Times