Even though A.C. Atkinson of Northwest enclosed a photo, I decided to hop in a cab and go over for a look.

It was every bit as bad as his camera had said.

There's a sign at the Washington end of Key Bridge that says WELCOME TO WASHINGTON. At least that's what it used to say, and that's what it could say again if an army of workers with stiff brushes were to spend a few hours working on it.

But what it says today is:

NATIONAL MARCH. . . and PROTEST THE. . . and K ST. NW. . . and something about nuclear war and something else, equally illegible, about overthrowing the ruling class.

In other words, the sign that's supposed to greet tourists (and all of us) as we enter Washington from Rosslyn has become a bulletin board--and an ill-kept, out-of-date one at that.

What you see as you go past is a mishmash of tattered posters and torn billboards that have been rained on once too often. You can't see the words WELCOME TO WASHINGTON at all.

A.C. Atkinson calls the sight "disgraceful." I call it scandalous.

Now, I realize that if the D.C. government cleaned the sign off today, posters would probably reappear tomorrow. The sign is simply too prominent for publicity-seekers and cause-pluggers to ignore.

But the same can be said about graffiti in the subway, and Metro fights those pesky slogans every day with armies of employes and gallons of industrial-strength solvent. Isn't WELCOME TO WASHINGTON worth at least as much.