Courtland Milloy has recently driven out to Skyline Drive to discover natural beauty and escape the crisis on Wall Street {Metro, Oct. 20}. There is, however, a small but permanent crisis on Skyline Drive that deserves to be noticed.

Half a century after their construction, the rock guard walls along the drive have suffered natural deterioration. They needed to be repaired or replaced.

To accomplish this with money from the Federal Highway Administration, the National Park Service, which administers the drive, accepted "safety standards" that require the new walls to be nearly 25 percent higher than the original ones.

The higher guard walls do look beautiful, and they will last much longer than the earlier walls. But they offer no more needed safety. The speed limit on the drive has remained at 35 mph, and the number of traffic accidents is extremely low.

Far worse, the new walls are just high enough to get in the way of the view. Where once there were dramatic vistas to be seen from a car, there is now a drive hemmed in between rock walls. Skyline Drive has, in part, become Skyline Chute.

This is a sad commentary on the modern obsession with safety and the requirements for the use of federal funds. May other national parks not suffer the same fate.