Maryland state Sen. Howard A. Denis (R-Montgomery) has begun a campaign to label Rte. I-270 and its connecting roads the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway_a name legally bestowed by Congress in 1973 but never applied by state highway officials.

Denis first wrote U.S. Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis and, based on his response, then wrote Maryland Transportation Secretary Lowell K. Bridwell urging that plaques be placed along the Maryland segment of the transcontinental Eisenhower Highway, noting its official name.

" . . . I don't see any purpose in naming a highway and keeping the name a secret," Denis wrote Bridwell, adding that "many . . . venerate the general and former president and . . . would find such designation suitable and overdue."

However, federal highway regulations do not permit states to use memorial names, such as Eisenhower's, on directional road signs visible to motorists while driving. Such memorializing is permitted only on plaques at rest areas and scenic overlooks.

Because of this rule, Virginia was forced to remove the name "Shirley Highway," named for the late Henry G. Shirley, a former highway commissioner, from signs on the suburban Washington road now known as I-395 and I-95. Longtime residents still favor the name over the interstate number, and the name appears on official state highway maps.

No Eisenhower name appears, however, on Maryland maps, although Congress applied it to I-270 from Bethesda to Frederick and I-70 on to the Pennsylvania line near Breezewood. From there, the Eisenhower Highway continues via a series of interstate routes to San Francisco.

Eisenhower, as a major in 1919, traveled in a 75-vehicle Army convoy from Washington to San Francisco, using primitive roads along roughly the same route, to dramatize the military need for good highways. As president in 1956, he activated the interstate highway system. MM ost of the kerosene sold in M Maryland is of a grade that is unsafe for use in the increasingly popular unvented household heaters, State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein has warned.

Goldstein, whose office has supervision of service station operations, said kerosene sold in the state is typically grade 2K, which has a high sulfur content and can create "dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide as well as carbon monoxide . . . where there is inadequate ventilation." He said only clean-burning grade 1K is considered safe.

The Maryland Fire Prevention Commission removed a statewide restriction against kerosene heaters early this month, but they are still illegal under local law in a few localities, notably Annapolis and surrounding Anne Arundel County and Baltimore County and city.

The only sitting Democrat in Virginia's 10-member delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Dan Daniel, may face a serious competition next year in his race for renomination in Southside's 5th Congressional District.

The Virginia radio Network reported that the clerk of the state Senate, Jay Shropshire, is seriously considering resigning his present job to challenge Daniel.

Daniel, 67, of Danville, is considered an old-line conservative Byrd Democrat. Shropshire, 36, of Martinsville, is regarded as a mainline Democrat without a strong ideological bent. The 5th District consists of 18 1/2 counties perched on the North Carolina border, reaching westward from the Richmond suburbs.

If you drink and drive and get arrested for it, don't expect your neighbors to sympathize.

A new Maryland Poll shows that 69 percent of Marylanders, 62 percent of Northern Virginians and 73 percent of District of Columbia residents who were queried felt that state or D.C. laws against drunken driving are not strict enough. In Maryland, typical of the other jurisdictions, only 3 percent felt the laws are too strict.

Actually, the Maryland General Assembly did strengthen the drunken driving laws at this year's session. "It is quite possible that our respondents were including enforcement of the laws as well as the laws themselves . . . ," said John Robinson, director of the Maryland Poll, which is conducted by the University of Maryland's Survey Research Center.

One finding: In their feelings about drinking drivers, there were virtually no differences between Republicans and Democrats, or liberals and conservatives, or voters and nonvoters, or Catholics, Jews and Protestants, including born-again Christians.