Residents of the Palisades area of Northwest Washington recently packed a D.C. Transportation Department hearing to protest a plan by Georgetown University to install a traffic light at the campus' south entrance on Canal Road NW, a major commuter route for residents of western Montgomery County.

The university proposes to make its south entrance the main entrance to the campus to alleviate traffic congestion on the narrow streets of Georgetown. Its plans call for a left-turn lane eastbound on Canal Road to permit access to the university across the westbound lanes of Canal Road.

At the hearing, residents of the Palisades and Foxhall neighborhoods west of the university said the traffic light would mean more tie-ups, more cars blocking their streets and more cars speeding down narrow streets.

However, the university's traffic consultant, Stephen G. Petersen, contended that the light and the left-turn lane would not impede morning rush-hour traffic because vehicles other than university buses would be prohibited from turning left out of the university into the eastbound stream of traffic during the morning rush.

Because only a small percentage of the traffic coming into the university approaches from Canal Road, the left-turn lane would not fill up and spill into the traffic lanes, Petersen said.

Permitting cars to cross the westbound lanes of Canal Road during the evening rush hour will actually improve the traffic situation by getting cars more directly to Key Bridge, Petersen predicted.

The Department of Transportation will accept comments on the traffic plan until Oct. 31.