As a Washington commuter, I cannot understand why there was a media uproar over last winter's problems commuting in the snow when there is not a word said about the afternoon traffic tie-ups recently along New York Avenue.

In the past 10 days, a 12-mile drive has taken over an hour on three occasions -- not because the weather has been bad, not because there were accidents or parked cars blocking any of the three outbound lanes. These problems have been caused by faulty lights all along this major artery through the District.

If the D.C. Department of Public Works can't resolve these problems, why can't we at least get assistance in directing traffic from the Metropolitan Police Department, as we do when a light is completely out? I particularly resented it the other evening when, after being on the road for an hour and 20 minutes, I finally passed through the errant lights at Montana and Virginia avenues. Sitting idly in the parking area of the gas station at the next intersection was a police cruiser with two officers apparently watching traffic go by. I know the police have a tough job, but at that moment I would not have admitted it.

Those signs all over town telling us about our "tax dollars at work" are but a poor excuse for heavy construction vehicles deteriorating the roadways and causing traffic jams. The dollars spent on those signs alone and the manpower to put them up would have been better spent on road repair and traffic-light maintenance. DAVID MANEY Stevensville, Md.