Eeeeks! What has the District of Columbia done to 14th Street? They've closed it, that's what. Quietly, they've shut down two blocks of it in the heart of downtown for about six months. How can they do that? Fourteenth Street is, of course, the major north-south artery through a downtown area that is already almost hopelessly clogged with traffic. Why would city officials simply throw up barricades and close 14th Street to traffic? To upgrade water and sewer lines, that's why. More about that later. Here are the consequences:

Try going northbound through the downtown area of the city. Twelfth Street has a crane parked across from the Hecht Co., bottling up traffic. Thirteenth Street, where police routinely allow drivers to double and triple park while paying utility bills in the offices around 13th and G, now is further choked with rerouted 14th Street northbound traffic.

Fifteenth Street, particularly at Pennsylvania Avenue, is gridlocked during all hours people normally are awake. East Executive Avenue, running by the White House, used to be a major commuter thoroughfare, but the feds sealed that off for security reasons.

Forget 17th Street, what with the normal high volume of traffic and all the trucks and cars moving in and out of the Old Executive Office Building basement. Of the one-way northbound options, 18th Street, with parking permitted on both sides of the street and delivery trucks trying to get into and out of the high-rise buildings, is more a parking lot than a roadway many mornings, and 20th and 22nd are not much better. Twenty-third Street, with the pedestrian traffic to George Washington University and people hunting for parking places, is a headache, too.

So now the city has closed 14th Street between G and H streets (New York Avenue crosses 14th between G and H). This is because the sewer and water lines at 14th and New York Avenue need to be upgraded, according to Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works. The lines were built in the late 1800s and could rupture, and larger water lines are needed to serve the new high-rise buildings in the area, she said. Because the city is already reconstructing New York Avenue between 13th and 15th, it made sense to go after that utility juncture now, while the intersection is torn up, Hamilton said.

Hamilton said that this situation shows how difficult it is to keep motorists and bicyclists happy with the condition of city streets. People complain about rough road surfaces, and then are bothered by disruption when the streets are being fixed, she said. "This is an excellent example of the difficulties public works faces in street construction that a highway department doing an interstate doesn't need to think about." She said the city resurfaced about 15 percent of its 1,100 miles of streets last year and is trying to do more each year, but that most of the streets were constructed at the same time and many now need repairs. "The streets that need the most attention are the streets that are the most congested," she said.

Okay, she makes some points. Still, closing 14th street? Does anyone out there have a solution to pass along instead of this approach? You've seen those people in front of the White House who carry the signs, "The End Is Near"? When the city can close 14th Street, they may be right. More Fallout from the Snow Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I, too, experienced nightmarish headaches from the Nov. 11th snowstorm. It took me approximately two hours that morning to travel 40 miles. Going home took about five hours.

My hat is off to those people who worked clearing off the snow. But what I can't understand is the enormous amount of trucks at a standstill. Why weren't these truckers halted at weighing stations? I believe someone should have made this major decision.GEORGE FERLAZZO Stafford

Good point. Maryland and Virginia highway and state police officials have met since the snowstorm to work on this and other snow concerns and have a number of recommendations that they will implement or consider including:Diverting trucks from I-95 and the Capital Beltway onto Rte. 301 in Maryland and Virginia.

Seeking legislation that would allow state police to declare a snow emergency in severe conditions and prohibit vehicles heavier than five tons from using interstate highways.

The use of portable message signs and CB radios to communicate special instructions to travelers, particularly truckers.

Establishing holding areas near the Woodrow Wilson and American Legion Memorial (Cabin John) bridges as places to tow abandoned vehicles.

Working out a mutual aid agreement that would allow state troopers and wreckers to enter into the other state in an emergency situation.

Exchanging home telephone numbers between public officials to avoid busy switchboards.

Working with local police departments at communication centers to set priorities on which abandoned or stalled vehicles should be towed.

Let's hope some of this gets put into effect before the next big snow. What's a Cyclist's Life Worth? Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I wish to remind metropolitan area drivers that when they sound off, as they so frequently do, about bicyclists (I am a bicycle commuter) we should all bear in mind what the recent Montgomery County court decision says about the worth of a bicyclist's life.

When, in an age of supposed great concern about drunk driving, a person {a bicyclist on Wisconsin Avenue} is killed by someone who had been drinking, who hit and ran in the most flagrant manner (by carrying her body for half a mile on his hood, and then intentionally dumping her) and that person receives in essence a three-month sentence (if he gets parole), it says that bicyclists can be killed in the most wanton manner and there will be essentially no repercussions. I find this decision outrageous beyond belief. KENNETH ALAN COLLINS Washington

So do a number of other people, Mr. Collins. Traffic Resolutions for '88

The Dr. Gridlock column for Jan. 1 might be an opportunity for readers to offer New Year's resolutions that local traffic officials should consider. If you'd like to offer a recommendation, feel free to do so in one or two sentences, please, about a matter of concern to a large number of people. For instance: "I would like to see Virginia highway officials resolve to widen Braddock Road in Fairfax County because it is wholly inadequate to serve the development around it." Mark the outside of the envelope "January 1," and we'll see if we can help officials off to a good start next year.

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 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.