Have you ever been so frustrated by the poor signing in this area that you've broken down and cried? Probably felt like it, at least.

The following letter is a courageous confession from an Alexandria resident who acknowledges bawling after 90 minutes of dazed driving in the George Washington Memorial parkways maze.

The root of this problem is that there are two George Washington Memorial parkways, both major commuter arteries that run parallel on opposite sides of the Potomac River. Reader complaints in this column prompted the superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway to try to change the name of the parkway on the Maryland side. However, the wheels of progress turn very slowly sometimes. Meanwhile, the problem persists. Here is this week's victim:Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I really don't care what they call the George Washington Parkway on the Maryland/District side, if only they would put up clear signs to tell us how to get from there to the Virginia parkway.

A few weeks ago, I left Silver Spring at 4 p.m. to return to Alexandria via Chain Bridge, the way I had come. When I arrived at the {Maryland GW parkway exit on the Capital Beltway}, the signs gave me a choice of going east or west {on the parkway}. So far as I am concerned, the Potomac and the parkways on each side run north and south. Following the sign for the parkway west, my logic being that Virginia is west of Maryland, I found myself going in the wrong direction {heading outside the Beltway}.

I took the first available exit. I knew there was a Cabin John Bridge {carrying the Beltway over the Potomac River}, but there were no signs to it, so I reentered the {Maryland GW} parkway to go over Chain Bridge.

All {inbound} traffic was forced to exit the parkway before the bridge. You can't go south (east) in rush hour.

I can't recall how I eventually managed to get over that {Chain} bridge, but when I did, I found that the {Virginia GW} parkway indeed intersected with the road I was on -- a good many feet in the air with no access in sight. I tried going left, I tried going right -- nothing indicated the direction to the parkway.

After several false starts, I again found myself on the {Virginia GW} parkway going the wrong way, and again I took the first exit. Before me was a gate, a sentry box and a young guard who signaled me to stop. It was the CIA. I burst into tears -- not a few droplets trickling down my cheeks for sympathy, but deep, hearty, frustration-cleansing sobs. The poor guard was undoubtedly nonplussed.

I wailed that all I wanted was to go south on the parkway to Virginia. He directed me to go north (or west as the signs call it). "Nooooo," I cried, "that's the way I was going before!" So he sent me in the other direction. In seconds -- about an hour and a half after I had first approached the parkway -- I was clearly on my way home at last. I cried most of the way there. MURROW MORRIS Alexandria

The doctor's condolences. Hope you're feeling better. This would not have happened if the parkways had different names. You would not have had to guess which one was headed to which state and be forced to rely on an internal compass to estimate the proper direction.

Early this year parkway Superintendent John F. Byrne agreed to try to change the name of the parkway on the Maryland side. He conducted a reader survey that drew many nominations for a new name. He settled on "Martha Washington Parkway" because lots of folks favored it, the name also was a natural to twin with George, and little else is named after Martha around here.

However, apparently it takes literally an act of Congress to make such a change. Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) of Montgomery County seems willing to sponsor the legislation, but she likes the name "Clara Barton Parkway." According to her office, residents of Montgomery County favor that name because Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, lived in Glen Echo, overlooking the Maryland George Washington Memorial Parkway. A spokesman for Morella said she intends to introduce the legislation soon. Let us certainly hope so, and offer thanks at the prospect. It is time.

Meanwhile, here are some other tips for Murrow Morris and others: the parkway does run north and south along the Potomac River -- between Mount Vernon and National Airport. But then the river turns. By the time the two parkways get to their Beltway intersections at the American Legion Memorial Bridge (formerly the Cabin John Bridge), the parkways are actually running east-west. East is inside the Beltway. The Maryland parkway then quickly turns southeast, toward Alexandria, but it ends at Chain Bridge. To connect with the southbound Virginia parkway, one has to head in the opposite direction (west) about two miles. So the best route would have been not to use the Maryland George Washington Parkway at all. Better would have been to stay on the Beltway, riding past the Maryland George Washington Memorial Parkway, crossing the Potomac River via the American Legion Memorial Bridge, and then taking the George Washington Parkway east on the Virginia side.

As to how to get to the Virginia GW parkway from Chain Bridge, motorists often are confused, according to Byrne. Many travel across the bridge and proceed straight ahead onto Glebe Road, which runs underneath the Virginia GW parkway and does not connect to it. The proper course is to turn right immediately after crossing Chain Bridge, onto Chain Bridge Road, which then heads upriver for about two miles, but does connect with the Virginia GW Parkway in both directions.

Byrne said the Park Service has been urging D.C. officials to place better signs to the Virginia GW parkway at both Chain Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge, to no avail. D.C. officials, it's your turn.

While various officials work on this, pack a good map. And take along a box of Kleenex. Struck by a Speeding Messenger Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The letter you printed from Rev. {Kenneth A.} Bastin {June 26} concerning the messenger who pounded on his car and spat in his face has prompted me to write. A few weeks ago I was struck by a messenger while crossing 20th Street {NW}. Not only was he traveling the wrong way (it never occurred to me to look up 20th Street because it's one way) he also had a stereo headset on. I was more angered than hurt because he never looked back and continued across M Street against the light. These bicyclists are cruising the streets and sidewalks with impunity.

They contend motorists make them that way. That's baloney. The messengers break every law in the book and know they won't get caught. Someday a pedestrian is going to get seriously hurt or killed, unless something is done to bring these messengers within the guidelines of the law. What do you suggest we do, so we don't walk the streets wondering where the next bike is coming from? WILLIAM M. DALTON Washington

We've written about this before. D.C. Police Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr. has shown that he can be responsive to some public concerns, by launching the current rush-hour crackdown on intersection blockers and illegal parkers. So far though, there is no significant campaign against traffic violators on bicycles. And you are right: They are often the most blatant lawbreakers you see on city streets. Perhaps police feel it is beneath them to pull over a bicyclist. If you have complaints, write to Chief Turner at 300 Indiana Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. Not Guilty of Following Too Closely Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In February I wrote to you concerning a traffic citation I received for following too close while attempting to pass in the fast lane. As you may recall, the incident took place as I was traveling south on the Beltway, and the vehicle I was allegedly following too close turned out to be a Maryland state police cruiser. I also indicated to you my intentions to fight the ticket. Well, as you requested, I am writing to update you on my day in court.

I pleaded not guilty and was permitted to cross-examine the officer and provide testimony in my defense. The basis of my defense was that a violation for following another vehicle too close in Maryland is at the discretion of the officer as to what is considered a prudent and reasonable distance, considering speed and road conditions. (I owe my knowledge of this to your investigation.) However, because the officer's view may have been distorted through a rear-view mirror, I believe his judgment was questionable.

The officer testified that on the day of the incident, road conditions were wet and there was an overcast. I disputed that testimony and stated it was sunny and dry and offered to produce a weather report for the day in question.

There was additional testimony, but to shorten this letter, let me say that the system really does work. I was found NOT GUILTY. SEVESTER BELL Mitchellville, Md.

Thanks for writing. And congratulations. Signs For Upcoming Intersections Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Would you ask {the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments} to expand its September signing meeting to include a consideration of posting signs telling the name of the upcoming major intersection? If I am trying to find an address, I have looked at a map and know the major intersection that I should cross before I get there, but sometimes I pass it without knowing and thus pass the address I am looking for. These signs would be the responsibility of the highway department. I believe they do have signs like this on Indian Head Highway {in Maryland} but I have not seen them in Northern Virginia. SUSAN M. ANDERSON Alexandria

Many readers wrote in with the same suggestion. The purpose of the September meeting is to focus area officials on another reader complaint: that business addresses too often can't be seen from busy roadways. Currently the numbers can be about any size and anywhere on the building, or really need not be there at all. That noble purpose perhaps shouldn't be diluted with more requests. However, your suggestion is every bit as valid. In some other areas of the country, signs are posted announcing the major intersection coming up. What a terrific service to motorists. How about taking this on, COG? Potholes That Won't Go Away Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am writing about a stretch of street directly in front of the United States Supreme Court: First Street SE.

For years, this stretch has been fixed and fixed but as soon as the rains come, giant potholes appear. Persons at the bus stop oftentimes get drenched by automobiles whose drivers do not care to slow down.

I think someone should take a look at it. Just driving along the stretch of First Street between East Capitol Street and Maryland Avenue is hazardous to one's health. H.E. GARDNER Washington

Tara Hamilton of the D.C. Department of Public Works examined the potholes and said the only permanent solution for the problem is to rebuild the street. That is scheduled to happen next year.

The problem on that particular street is exacerbated by heavy bus traffic, which helps create new potholes and makes existing ones worse. It's tough to keep up with them, Hamilton says.

Short-term repair work, such as patching potholes and resurfacing streets, is ongoing in the District. But projects that require tearing up the street to rebuild it -- such as what is needed on that stretch of First Street -- are scheduled years in advance. Potholes can be reported to the D.C. Pothole Hot Line at 767-8527.