Police at the scene of a drag race overnight on Friday. Photo via Maryland State Police.

The straightaways at the beginning of westbound I-70 in Woodlawn are a known hub for area drag racers and accompanying crowds late at night. This past weekend, police met up with them as it was happening.

State and Baltimore County police set up in the area near I-70 and I-695 for a traffic enforcement initiative overnight on Friday, netting 65 traffic stops in all between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. Included among those were two broken-up street races, one on I-70 with, according to a release, “a crowd of what investigators estimated to be 50 to 60 people.” Those participating in the race had closed off a section of westbound I-70.

“Troopers and officers were able to strategically position themselves ahead of the street racing activity,” police said. “At some point participants were alerted to the police presence and started to flee from the racing area on I-70. The joint team was able to stop two street racers and both illegal street racers were charged appropriately.”

Maryland State Police Sgt. DaVaughn Parker said police ultimately charged two people, one from Pasadena and another from Glen Burnie, with moving violations. No one was arrested, and all were released that same evening.

Parker said state police don’t keep data handy on how many street racing investigations or stops they make in that area, but “it’s a spot where we get a lot of complaints, so we do a lot of enforcement initiatives in that area.”

In February 2017, police announced an arrest there in which they broke up a crowd that had assembled for a race, only to respond again an hour later when some of the drivers came back. They wound up arresting a man who they said had been directing traffic at the starting line and tried to run away.

In 2009, two race spectators were killed there and two others were hurt when a drunk driver lost control of his car.

The State Highway Administration responded by eliminating a lane and adding obstructive poles and reflective barriers, according to WMAR 2. The agency has also since begun monitoring the area with video cameras, which it uses to alert state troopers about suspicious activity happening there (such as drag racing). Last year, SHA also put signs up to remind drivers they’re being watched.

Parker said the recent collaboration between state troopers and Baltimore County police is meant to “deter new people who want to start racing.” Other state-county traffic enforcement initiatives are planned through 2018.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...