Here's another report on the difficulty of finding businesses in the metropolitan area because addresses aren't visible from the roadway or aren't there at all. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, you may recall, pledged to convene a meeting of area officials in September to discuss the problem, then had a change of heart after finding little interest. COG said it was up to local officials to initiate a group meeting.

Dr. Gridlock asked how much readers care about this matter and promised to forward any responses to the appropriate local officials. From the hefty stack of letters received, a lot of people care. The problem contributes to gridlock, as victims drive slowly up and down major arteries hunting for numbers, and it raises frustration levels. Needlessly. Most area jurisdictions have regulations requiring numbers, but there is no uniformity about size or visibility, and the regulations seem loosely enforced. Many of the letters also complained about hard-to-read street signs and hard-to-find residential addresses as well. Those are perfectly valid concerns, but let's focus instead on business addresses for now and get to those other problems later. The letters will be forwarded. Let's see if any public officials care. A sample from the mailbag:Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I find it unbelievable that there is no public official concern concerning visible, regulated business place street address numbers. I too have driven up and down city blocks in Fairfax County cities (always in heavy traffic) trying to spot at least one number in a whole block (to determine if I am warm). Life is hectic and frustrating enough in overcrowded areas, especially with the constant traffic frustrations. We need to make our area more "user friendly." Other localities have applied some common-sense rules to accomplish this. Why can't this highly paid and educated populace accomplish simple tension-reducing things like "numbering" as well as a small town in Wisconsin or elsewhere? WILLIAM E. FLORENCE Springfield Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Can't something be done about this problem? Not only business firms but also government offices are at fault in labeling their places of business with numbers too small to read from the street, or in out of the view spots.

I wear glasses -- a new prescription -- but I don't feel like lugging a telescope around. BARBARA LATTURNER Fairfax Dear Dr. Gridlock:

A couple of years ago, while we were building a house, I had to do some major shopping for flooring, appliances, kitchen cabinets, etc. Thank God my mother was able to come up from Arizona to help me. While I drove around in the general vicinity of the businesses we were looking for and concentrated on coping with Northern Virginia traffic, she focused on finding the stores themselves. Without her help, I don't think I'd have had the courage to tackle the job. KATHLEEN OUELLETTE Clifton Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I'm a courier, and in the suburbs where those marble palace office buildings are -- some have numbers in the front and others in the back -- many of {the numbers are not visible} and others are so obscure I have to drive into their parking lot and/or enter the building to find the address (and a lot of the people in the lobby don't know the number.) The numbers are on the door and in a dark area that can't be read from the road. A lot of them are at the top of the building, if you know where to look, but it's difficult to locate them going 55 miles per hour. ROBERT SIMPSON Washington Dear Dr. Gridlock:

How about telling your readers to complain to the business owners who care so little for their customers? ROBERT BLAIR Springfield Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Trying to find a business address in Fairfax County and Falls Church can be a hassle. Route 50, Little River Turnpike and Lee Highway are all terrible. Gas stations, it seems, refuse to acknowledge they belong to a numbered system, and they could be excellent guide posts. NANCY RUSSELL Falls Church Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Please add my name to the list of drivers requesting readable building addresses. The situation is deplorable, particularly for people who have transferred here from other parts of the country and are unfamiliar with the area. ELIZABETH GLORIO Gaithersburg Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The basic attitude about most public officials regarding most public concerns is: who cares?

It would surely be wonderful if something could be done to correct the problem, but I certainly won't hold my breath.

I must add this: when flaws as basic as this one are allowed to exist, a person really has to wonder why we even have public officials. B. BERNHARDT Herndon Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Tell us who they are and we'll vote them out. Just last night we stumbled around, from one lane to another, in Fairfax on Rte. 50, hunting a number. We care! MURIEL and ED LIPP Alexandria Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am very irate over the lack of interest from our public officials. But why should that shock us? Have they ever been concerned in matters such as this? There are many things that need improvement in this area, but how can we expect them to be done if the officials don't care about the little things first? YVONNE WEBER Vienna Dear Dr. Gridlock:


Why do we pay these people?

As for businesses, don't they want to be found? JEAN A. GORDON Springfield Dear Dr. Gridlock:

COG has no impact with the local governments now or at election time. But I do with mine. Please forward this to my top elected official, ole what's his name. JOSEPH J. COCHRAN Silver Spring

Dr. Gridlock appears in this section each Friday to explore what makes it difficult to get around on roads, from misleading signs to parking problems to chronic bottlenecks. We'll try to find out why bad situations exist and what is being done about them. You can suggest topics 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.