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Highland Park Dam Overlook Park, Highland Park Bridge & Brilliant Branch Bridge: Allegheny River

The Highland Park Dam Overlook in Pittsburgh gives of a view of one of the lock and dams that allows the Allegheny River to be navigable by boats. It also gives a view of two neat bridges that have been critical to the infrastructure of the city, the Highland Park Bridge, and the Brilliant Branch Railroad Bridge. The Highland Park Bridge's completion dates back to 1939 and it is the key road bridge link that takes people out of Pittsburgh city limits to the north and northwest. 

The Brilliant Branch Railroad Bridge, dating back to 1904, is seldom used these days, and I believe its days of handling rail traffic are over, for it is set to carry a rail trail across the river. When the Pennsylvania Railroad was chock full of passenger rail traffic, the Brilliant Branch was used to bypass the heavy rail traffic of the Main Line within Pittsburgh and it carried trains over to the Conemaugh Line, which in itself was also a mostly freight bypass of the Main Line. The Conemaugh Line still sees heavy use to this day. The Brilliant Line was created to join the two lines and provide an additional relief valve, but was not particularly useful once passenger service dwindled in the 50s and 60s. The most stunning part of this line can be seen in a large stone arch rail bridge just up the road on Washington Blvd. Most recently, the bridge has seen occasional local traffic from the Allegheny Valley Railroad freight line, though the line had sat abandoned since 1976 when Conrail let the line go. The AVRR started using the line in 2003, though its primary customer that it serviced, using the bridge, has since gone out of business. It has occasionally been used as a detour while other rail bridges were being repaired. The line has sat mostly unused, aside from the wye at the end of the Brilliant Branch, at its junction with the old main line, where the daily Amtrak Pennsylvanian turns around when it terminates in Pittsburgh in the evening. The train turns around using the wye so that it is facing eastward on its daily journey to Philadelphia and New York City. In 2022, the Brilliant line was sold to a local group which is going to convert the line into a bike and pedestrian trail, which should be a phenomenal boost to transportation and quality of life for communities on both sides of the river. 

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