WOULD YOU indulge a parochial complaint that has, we believe, Meaningful Areawide Implications? The District is rebuilding the northern approaches to the 14th Street Bridge. This necessitates closing three southbound lanes leading to the bridge and shifting their traffic to 15th Street SW, with two southbound lanes. It became evident when the rebuilding began a year ago that there was a serious bottleneck on 15th where it crosses Maine Avenue. If you sit and stew in your car day after day on 15th, however, you observe, grimly, that cross traffic on Maine breezes through. Obviously, the lights are still set the old way. Why not reset them to give the now-heavier flow on 15th a fair shake?

Why not, indeed? A series of phone calls the other day, made in the following order, provided an illuminating answer. The city's Department of Transportation reported that, sorry, the federal National Capital Parks controls the light at that Tidal Basin corner. NCP said, sorry, not us. Transportation double-checked and held to its original story. NCP double-checked, said, hey, that corner is in our jurisdiction after all, and promised to dispatch a man with a screwdriver: "It's no big deal."

So. It is bad enough that Washington's busiest bridge will have been strangled by repairs for a full two years due to a single-shift work schedule and, if one car pool's daily observations are to be taken into account, a pace of work that often seems only slightly faster than the speed at which grass grows. But it is intolerable that the crossroads cowboys at National Capital Parks or the D.C. Department of Transportation or wherever cannot use their heads and adjust old light patterns to new traffic patterns as a matter of course--on 15th Street and everywhere else in the area where repairs or something else requires it. Whoever is guilty of the heinous bureaucratic crime committed at the corner of 15th and Maine should be sentenced to drive to Virginia every day until the lights are fixed.