IT HAS been a long time coming but possible progress on an upgrade of the F3 freeway to Raymond Terrace was welcomed by local businesses yesterday.
Business Association of Raymond Terrace president Brett Fatches said the upgrade had been on the books for "an extended period of time" and it was disappointing it was not already in place.
"The proposed pathways for the freeway has been on exhibition for years and years and the pathway has been accepted for about five years so it's been a long time coming," he said.
"And there's no sense that we are going to get a rail link to this region in the near future so this would be the next best thing in terms of connectivity between Sydney and Newcastle."
If work had begun when the plan was first envisaged it would be in place by now, he said.
"It's been a question of funding for some period of time so we can only be philosophical about that," Mr Fatches said.
During holiday periods and peak hour, traffic was regularly backed up for about four kilometres from Hexham Bridge to the outskirts of Heatherbrae, Mr Fatches said.
The upgrade would make Raymond Terrace-based business more accessible for people living in Newcastle, and make Raymond Terrace and surrounding areas more attractive places to live.