Freeport Road surveillance plan zooms ahead

Chuck Biedka
| Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

PITTSBURGH -- Bids are being solicited to install a wireless surveillance camera network by fall that will stretch along roads between Sharpsburg and Tarentum.

Twenty companies attended a mandatory pre-bid conference on Tuesday. No other companies will be allowed to submit bids, which are due in March.

The public safety cameras should be installed by this fall on bridges and one intersection along Freeport Road, Allegheny County District Attorney Steven A. Zappala Jr. said.

Zappala said the cameras will focus on public areas only.

The DA obtained nearly $300,000 from the Port of Pittsburgh through the federal Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Sharpsburg is contributing about $60,000, and so are most of the other communities.

The network installation is being coordinated by John Hudson, 45, of Beaver, who said he learned the science as an agent for the Secret Service.

Hudson said the money will pay for a nearly 30-camera network on the 62nd Street, Highland Park, Hulton, New Kensington and Tarentum bridges, as well as the intersection of Fox Chapel and Freeport roads in O'Hara. Roof-top cameras there will be able to see Route 28 on and off ramps as well as parts of Freeport Road.

Some of the cameras will able to pan, tilt and zoom.

Others, like some at the Tarentum Bridge, will be able to zoom in on license plates.

"The Henderson case in Ross is an example of how this type of technology will help," Zappala said. Last week, Ross and Hopewell police investigating rapes there got surveillance photos of a dark blue Ford SUV. That photo ultimately led to the arrest of suspect Arthur Lamont Henderson.

"But if we had the license plate technology in place, we might have been able to determine the name of the suspect before the Jan. 9 rape that he is accused of doing," Zappala said.

The surveillance cameras in the Allegheny River Valley will connect to camera networks already working or soon to be installed along the Ohio and Monongahela rivers, he said.

Local police will be able to access the web-based cameras from in-car laptop computers. Emergency dispatchers will be able to use them to rapidly decide if more equipment is needed for fires or accidents within view of the cameras, Zappala said.

Similar cameras networks have been installed in Sheldon Park in Harrison and other Allegheny County public housing communities.

"They have reduced crime there," Zappala said.

"We all need to be smarter on crime," he said. "This network will put more eyes in our communities."

Additional Information:

Where cameras will be installed

Plans for a 29-camera surveillance system from Sharpsburg to the Tarentum Bridge include cameras at:

-- 62nd Street (Fleming) Bridge (connects Pittsburgh and Etna)

-- Highland Park Bridge (Pittsburgh and O'Hara)

-- Both sides of the Hulton Bridge (Harmar and Oakmont)

-- Both sides of the New Kensington (Ninth Street) Bridge (New Ken and Springdale Township)

-- Both sides of the Tarentum Bridge (New Ken and Tarentum)

-- Fox Chapel and Freeport roads intersection, O'Hara

Source: JP Hudson & Associates

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