THE NSW Government has acknowledged the F3 freeway link to Branxton underpins its planning strategy for the entire Lower Hunter Region.
In its submission to the Federal Government body Infrastructure Australia, the State Government said the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy "was predicated on the creation of a new federal freeway from Seahampton to Branxton".
But the link is not included in the submission's broad list of key priorities for land transport in the state.
The submission says the extension, which is to be reviewed soon by both levels of government as part of the Lower Hunter Transport Needs study, would "alleviate pressure" on the New England Highway. It says the project is "strongly supported by the NSW Government".
It also acknowledges what planners in the region have said for the past few years that transport infrastructure is a "key constraint" for land releases around Maitland, Cessnock and Raymond Terrace.
The regional strategy projects a population increase of 160,000 over the next 25 years.
The Seahampton to Branxton link is discussed in relation to a proposed F3 and Sydney Orbital link, although only the orbital link is referred to in a list of key infrastructure priorities.
The list says an upgrade of the New England Highway is "of significance", and the completion of dual carriageways on the Pacific Highway is "critical".
A spokeswoman for Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal said the Hunter study would be presented to Infrastructure Australia once it was completed in November.
The submission also identifies freight movements as a concern, predicting a three-fold increase on the Brisbane-Sydney corridor by 2029.
Infrastructure Australia is developing a national priority list for federal funding that will be considered at a premiers' conference in March.