Ever experienced this? You're looking for a business, but don't know exactly where it is. You're hunting along a commercial strip and need to move along or get run over by other cars. Some businesses have no addresses. Some have numbers too small to read. Some have numbers that fade into the background, and some numbers are hard to read because (to be chic?) they are in italics.

So you drive back and forth, making U-turns, holding up traffic, creating a hazard for yourself and others, adding to congestion -- all because the place you are seeking to visit isn't well marked.

Why does life have to be like this?

An Arlington reader puts it this way:Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Most comment on traffic congestion focuses on inadequate road space and inconsiderate drivers. Little if anything is heard about a subtle factor: the milling around of drivers who don't know where they are or how to get there; the hazards of slow, stop-and-go trying to read signs and find numbers; and the frantic lane-switching of those who discover too late that they need to turn or park at the curb.

Zoning officials seem not to know, as highway engineers know, that navigation signs and markers need to be large and visible.

Many buildings cannot be identified when standing in front of them. Are the numbers lost, or painted on the curb under parked vehicles, or painted over?

Building numbers should be large enough, clear enough and in standardized locations. The regulations governing them should be responsive to drivers and not to the whims of owners. A. MAXWELL Arlington

Rules vary widely on the size of commercial address numbers and where they must be placed. Numbers need to be at least eight inches high in Prince George's County, but only two inches high in Howard County. In the District, the minimum is three inches; it's six inches in Montgomery and Prince William counties. Fairfax has no size requirement, only that the address be visible from the road, whatever that means.

Many of our localities have no regulation as to where the business address should be placed, leaving drivers to search for possibilities while taking their eyes off the road.

How about this, to follow up on reader Maxwell's suggestion: Make all numbers one foot high. Make them all the same color on the same color contrasting background. Post all numbers directly above the main entrance to the business. Wouldn't this make it easier to find businesses, and don't businesses want that? Wouldn't this help traffic flow, ease the danger to drivers and also help law enforcement, postal, fire and rescue people?

Maybe there's a role for the regional Council of Governments here. Does anyone else share this concern? A Motion in Favor of Motion Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Gary P. Thomas' letter {June 5} concerning the holdup of traffic on Capitol Hill was written well and accurately. I leave the Library of Congress on a bus, going west {on Independence Avenue} during rush hour, and have often observed the tactics of the Capitol Police.

The police not only hold up traffic for congressmen going to roll call, but continue afterward so that the congressmen can stroll back to their offices. The other night, our bus stood waiting 20 minutes before traffic began moving again. Only twice, for five seconds each, were cars and buses allowed through the intersection.

Congress built an underground railway for the express purpose of allowing themselves to get to the floor on time for roll call. It is paralleled with a walkway.

Both these methods underground are quicker and more efficient than going outdoors and walking across the street.

I have personally timed the distance to walk from the congressional office buildings on Independence Avenue to the House floor, waiting for a light. It takes less than five minutes.

So, if a congressman chooses this route to meet roll call, let him wait and cross with the green light like everyone else.

Usually during rush hour it takes the bus 10 minutes to travel from the Library of Congress to Seventh and Independence. The other day, held up for Congress, it took 45 minutes. LILLA M. LICHT Washington Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read the complaint by Gary P. Thomas and the response by Inspector {James} Blacksdon. I would like to substantiate Thomas' complaint since I found myself in the same situation about three weeks ago.

We were at the front of the line at the same intersection {Independence and New Jersey avenues SE} as described by Thomas on a Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, the officers were not letting any cars through. We waited about 15 minutes before we could move. The traffic was backed up in both directions, and some daring cars were running the red light right in front of the officers. What was almost worse was that once the lights were turned on, the traffic became snarled and the officers who had just held up the traffic made no attempt to direct the cars through the intersection.

If I have a meeting, I make sure to leave in time. That planning includes planning to wait for traffic. Congress should plan the same. BRUCE GEISERT Washington

The situations you describe certainly seem beyond reason. Inspector Mike Hanneld of the U.S. Capitol Police, speaking for the chief, said in response to these letters:

"We have talked to people in our uniformed services and we can't find anyone who is aware of holding traffic beyond two, three, four minutes at the outside. It's really incredible to me that we would be holding traffic for 15 to 20 minutes."

To better understand any problems, Hanneld invites readers to complain in writing directly to the U.S. Capitol Police, 331 First St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20510. Make the letter "Attention Office of Chief" and include the date, time of day and location as well as any other supporting details. Send a copy to Dr. Gridlock, too.

"I don't think there's an inherent conflict between facilitating members getting to vote and accommodating traffic too," Hanneld said. He promised to look at both if there is sufficient response from the public.

What's the Delay on the SW Freeway? Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You mentioned a couple of months ago that D.C. was going to start repair/repaving work on the Southwest Freeway this spring. Well, now that summer is upon us, when is the work actually going to start? As one who travels every morning from Virginia across the 14th Street bridge onto the freeway to Bolling Air Force Base and back home again, my car won't take much more abuse! I'll even put up with all the traffic hassles to get the road in shape by fall. Thanks for your help. ROBERT STACY Arlington

The badly needed repair work has been delayed because of complications in awarding the contract, according to Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works. She said the road project, to cost more than $20 million, is one of the most extensive the city has undertaken. Work is now scheduled to begin this fall.

The project will include resurfacing the entire highway, between the 14th Street bridge and the Sousa Bridge, and improving signs, median dividers, lighting and ramp connections. Hamilton declined to say how long this would take, but promised details in the next few weeks.

Dr. Gridlock appears in this section each Friday. You can relay problems by writing to GRIDLOCK, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.