I am appalled at the street conditions in the nation's capital. The streets in the heart of downtown Washington are loaded with potholes, craters, bumps, debris -- and have been now for years. Where is the D.C. government? Doesn't anyone care about our image as the No. 1 capital in the free world?

Whatever happened to the nickel-per-gallon-of-gas funds to be used for road improvements?If it's this bad now, what canwe expect when the inclement weather hits this winter?

I expect to hear as an excuse that all the construction work precludes street repairs at this time. Baloney. Construction has been going on for years.

What do you say to would-be visitors who would like to tour our so-called beautiful city? Don't drive downtown unless you own a tank? Or, if you own a car and choose to use it, be prepared to pay for frequent front-end alignments, new shocks and new tires?

Because downtown Washington is such a horrible mess and is somewhat of a ghost town at night, why doesn't the D.C. government make street repairs during those hours of minimal traffic flow? Hello, D.C. government, are you listening? Hello, is anybody out there?

BARRON H. FREEBURGER Silver Spring