Building a new super bridge to replace the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge {Metro, July 11} would be a major step in the wrong direction.

The Beltway is fast deteriorating into a race track for people with car keys and personality disorders; such behavior should not be facilitated by building expensive new bridges that don't really get people where they need to go.

The time is ripe to rethink the whole traffic issue in the metropolitan area by asking some basic questions: Who uses the bridge? Where are they going? Is there a better way to get there?

There will likely be many answers. Rather than just building one or two bridges, several tunnels will probably be needed. Passenger terminals for traffic to and from National Airport serviced by helicopters could be located conveniently throughout the region. Railroads should be revived to carry freight, and trucks could share the same bridges and tunnels. A lot of people who work at the Pentagon could just stay home to compute and fax and find more time to relax. MICHAEL A. OLSON Drayden, Md.

Washington-area residents who spend an hour or more in their cars each day negotiating traffic may be interested to know of an upcoming decision by the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board. For 20 years, Virginia has been trying to justify the construction of a bypass around Charlottesville along state Route 29 to speed travel to the southern part of the state. In three months, the board will make the final decision. The results of years of study indicate that the main beneficiaries will be the 2,000 to 6,000 cars and trucks each day that wish to avoid Charlottesville's local traffic. The bypass will save them between 84 seconds and 4 minutes at a cost of more than $100 million. At a public hearing last month, the local participants spoke out 10 to 1 against constructing any such bypass. But we are worried that the state will still build a bypass against our wishes.

One hundred million dollars is an awful lot to spend to shave a few minutes off the travel times of a handful of drivers. Compared to Northern Virginia, we don't even have any traffic. Because there is only a finite pool of highway construction money, it should be spent where it would do the most to improve the quality of life: in Northern Virginia, not rural Albermarle county. LOUIS BLOOMFIELD Charlottesville