By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Fort Pitt Tunnel is the perfect funnel into Pittsburgh, the “city with an entrance.”

But the entrance to the tunnel itself isn’t bad either. The median of the Parkway West, Route 376, is an island of green, planted by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Conservancy members and media types march toward the Fort Pitt Tunnel, en route to a closer look.

“We’re going to walk on this walkway through the office of the tunnel,” says the Conservancy’s Greenspace Services Coordinator Danita Greaser. “And over and onto the center of the highway.”

Conservancy members and volunteers have gone over the tunnel and through the woods many times. But the Welcome Garden, planted in 1998, was threatened with closure for lack of funds, until the Huntington Bank came through as a new sponsor.

Pittsburgh region bank president celebrates the unveiling as a sign declaring the green space the Huntington Welcome Garden.

“The 170,000 vehicles per day that travel both ways of this parkway get to see our wonderful city,” he says. “This is our way of saying ‘welcome.'”

Conservancy members celebrate the moment by, of course, planting another tree. Renewal of the 750-foot-long garden comes as the Fort Pitt Tunnel marks its 50th anniversary. In season, it will bloom with 6,500 flowers – quite a contrast with the highway on its borders.

“It’s a nicer green oasis in what is a pretty intense built environment,” Danita Greaser concludes. “A little bit of green to take with us.”

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