KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is preparing to make major upgrades to a busy state route across Washington and Sullivan Counties.

TDOT has approved funding for improvements along Highway 93 through Fall Branch to the Sullivan Gardens community.

The project will be divided into five sections. The design is different from what had previously been considered, which was a five lane bypass around Fall Branch.

Transportation director Bill Allbright explains: "Due to budget issues and traffic volume concerns, this is what TDOT recommended," he said. "I think it's a good practical solution."

The project will cost close to $15 million, compared to the nearly $40 million to build the five-lane bypass.

The improved road has long been considered a new gateway to connect Kingsport to Interstate 81 at the Fall Branch exit.

An environmental study is currently underway and construction should begin in 2013.