ONE of Scotland’s “highest-risk public road level crossings” could be replaced with a bridge, under newly revealed multi-million-pound plans.

A proposed £8.7 million scheme would divert the road south of Markle and include a bridge over the busy East Coast Main Line.

Discussions about the project, which involves East Lothian Council, Transport Scotland and Network Rail, have been ongoing for more than a decade.

Now, the council has revealed plans for a scheme that would see the level crossing – where two people have been killed in the last 15 years – permanently closed.

According to the plans, which could be decided this spring: “The proposed development would provide a safer route for road users, pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians through Markle, and would also eliminate barrier waiting times completely.

“It is noted that barrier waiting times would increase significantly if the scheme is not progressed due to proximity to the proposed East Linton Station.

“It would also contribute towards the safe and efficient running of trains on the East Coast Main Line.”

Currently, the road passes through the hamlet of Markle.

Under the proposals, the new layout would sweep to the south before reaching a bridge over the railway line.

The new road would then rejoin the existing road, with Markle only accessible from the east of the busy railway line.

In 2010, Network Rail started a level crossing risk reduction programme with a view to closing or upgrading crossings throughout the country.

Markle level crossing is described as “one of the highest-risk public road level crossings on Scotland’s railway”.

The design and access statement included with the plans, which have been lodged with the council’s planning department, noted that improvements to the crossing would mean safety risks were “mitigated to some extent”.

However, the creation of a bridge would mean risk “removed entirely”.

Network Rail believes that “the most effective way of reducing level crossing risk is to eliminate it by completely closing the existing crossing”.

If given the go-ahead, the project, which is expected to take about 40 weeks to complete once work gets under way, would be funded by Transport Scotland.

Three sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS) ponds would be created beside the new bridge and a segregated footpath and cycleway, as well as a new access to Markle Fisheries.