Pittsburgh, Pa. – June 27, 2017 – Daylilies, purple coneflower, sea green juniper and Eastern redbud trees now provide greenery, beauty and bursts of natural color along Ohio River Boulevard (Route 65) in Pittsburgh, thanks to the generous support from private donors, the Garden Club of Allegheny County and Rivers Casino.

Today, community residents Nelson and Carol Craige, GCAC Grants Committee Chairperson Carol Duggan, Rivers Casino General Manager Craig Clark and representatives from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy unveiled the sign at the newly planted 1,400 foot-long community gateway flower garden in the median of Route 65.

Financial support from the Craiges, GCAC and Rivers Casino made it possible for WPC to purchase flowers, trees, mulch, tools and other materials needed to establish and maintain this unique floral entryway into downtown Pittsburgh. Used by approximately 32,000 daily commuters, Route 65 is a popular thoroughfare connecting communities and suburbs west of Pittsburgh to the North Side, North Shore and downtown Pittsburgh.

“GCAC is pleased to support and be part of greening efforts in key locations across the county, including this new Route 65 garden,” said Duggan, whose club has supported other Conservancy greening projects since 1984, including the Ft. Pitt Tunnel Garden and a new bioswale in Point State Park.

Seeking tangible opportunities to expand their existing sustainability efforts, Rivers General Manager Craig Clark said they are pleased to partner with the Conservancy to help sustain this new garden over the next three years near the casino.

“The Conservancy has done an amazing job sprucing up our highways and the city, and we are thrilled to support them on this project along Ohio River Boulevard,” said Clark.

This new Route 65 garden joins three other Conservancy entryway gardens – Parkway West at the Ft. Pitt Tunnel, Parkway East at the Squirrel Hill Tunnel and Route 51 at the Liberty Bridge – that provide aesthetically pleasing landscapes enjoyed by tens of thousands of commuters each day. Not only do these entryway gardens bring a unique identity, beauty, character and charm to Pittsburgh, they are also important urban wildlife areas for birds and pollinators such as butterflies and bees. Vital near busy roadways, the trees in these gardens absorb CO2 and release oxygen back into the air.

Current road construction activities provided an ideal time for planning, design and construction of the flower beds before planting the Route 65 garden. WPC also partnered with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to coordinate planting and landscaping activities around road and lane closures. PennDOT provided mulch, landscaping fabric, topsoil and planter boxes as part of the $25.2 million Route 65 Improvement Project.

Interest to turn the concrete median into green space has been decades in the making. Twenty years ago, the Craiges began working with the Conservancy to help transform the corridor between the Manchester neighborhood and the West End Bridge into a healthy and vibrant green space. They helped plant a pilot perennial garden along Route 65 to determine which plants would best tolerate the challenging environment of exhaust fumes, salt spray, and limited shade and water. Perennials such as serviceberry and forsythia proved to be tolerant and are now among the plants used to provide year-round beauty and visual interest for this new garden.

“It’s very rewarding to partner with such a committed local business and residents to make our communities more beautiful and environmentally healthier places to live,” said Cynthia Carrow, vice president of government and community relations for the Conservancy. “We sincerely appreciate the support of Rivers Casino, the Craiges, Garden Club of Allegheny County, PennDOT and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. This garden would not be possible if not for all of their support and commitment.”

Since the 1970s, WPC has worked with communities to create highly visible community flower gardens in public places. Today, there are 131 community gardens in 20 counties supported by dedicated volunteers and the generosity of businesses and organizations that lend financial support. For more information on community garden sponsorships in the region, contact Julie Holmes at 412-586-2312 or jholmes@paconserve.org.


Download photos of the Route 65 garden unveiling: https://we.tl/MUJILRaLck

Download a 14-second b-roll clip of the Route 65 garden unveiling: https://we.tl/sHFqF0RDj4

About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish 10 state parks, conserved more than a quarter million acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams. The Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater, which symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 130 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of about 12,000 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org or Fallingwater.org.

The Garden Club of Allegheny County:

The Garden Club of Allegheny County was founded in 1914 by a group of civic-minded women who were passionate about the benefits of public and private gardening. Since that time, members of GCAC have devoted countless hours and resources to protect and improve the natural environment of the community we all share. GCAC has made over $1,000,000 total contributions to environmental projects and programs in our community. For more information, visit gcacpgh.org.

About Rivers Casino:

Opened in 2009, Rivers Casino has been voted a “Best Place to Work” in the Pittsburgh Business Times, a “Top Workplace” in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Best Overall Gaming Resort” in Pennsylvania by Casino Player magazine and “Best Overall Casino” in Pennsylvania by Strictly Slots magazine. The casino features more than 2,900 slots, 92 table games, a 30-table poker room, nine distinctive restaurants and bars, a riverside amphitheater, a multi-purpose event space, live music performances, free parking and multiple promotions and giveaways daily. Already, more than $631 million in jackpots have been awarded to players at Rivers Casino. For more information, visit RiversCasino.com.

Media contact:

Kristen Blevins
Communications Specialist
412-586-2328 (office)