To blow or not to blow, that is the question — at least when it comes to trains going through Ottumwa, blowing their horns four times at each railroad crossing.

That’s seven crossings — 28 blows.

To Ottumwans living a mile or so away from the railroad tracks, maybe it’s not so bothersome.

But, if you live and/or work downtown, on both sides of the Des Moines River, it can be an annoying, raucous sound.

It was very noticeable during a recent stop in Central Park. Train horns plus some noisy motorcycles plus some cars and trucks with loud mufflers made conversation difficult at times.

Ours is a noisy world.

But, it doesn’t have to be.

Burlington, about 75 miles east of us, now has a “quiet zone” through its downtown. Trains don’t blow their horns.

It took months of work, but Burlington officials got it done.

Now, a group of Ottumwans would like to do the same thing. Fairfield also is working on establishing a quiet zone.

It’s the same trains going through Ottumwa, Fairfield and Burlington.

Ottumwa has another railroad that heads out north of town, so some residents get stereo train horns.

Establishing a quiet zone for downtown Ottumwa may be a good thing. At least worthy of discussion.

Right now, Ottumwa Progress, Inc. and Main Street Ottumwa volunteers are doing the research to find out what all has to be done to establish such a zone.

The issue is due to be discussed by city council members this summer.

In an Associated Press story last week, Burlington officials said they were happy to now have a quiet zone after five years of work.

So, it’s a slow process with approval needed from the Federal Railroad Administration and money raised for changes to be made at the railroad crossings to assure safety.

Fairfield hopes to get the quiet zones done next year.

Ottumwans are just beginning their efforts.

Now is the time for Ottumwa residents to speak out, whether or not the city needs quiet zones.

As long as we don’t lose safety at our seven intersections, losing the 28 whistle blasts would be a welcome change.

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