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Springfield postal changes on hold -- for now

NPR Illinois

A controversial plan to shift area mail sorting from Springfield to St. Louis won't happen until at least next year. In a letter to a U.S. Senator, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy wrote the changes at dozens of smaller facilities across the country will be delayed.

Springfield is currently a Processing and Distribution Center. It takes in mail from post offices and collection boxes across a large part of central Illinois. But the USPS is reorganizing the P & DCs. Springfield will instead process mail to its final destination when it arrives from the regional sorting facility.

“Further to our conversation yesterday, I agree to pause the movement of processing operations associated with the Mail Processing Facility Reviews. In response to the concerns you and your colleagues have expressed, I will commit to pause any implementation of these moves at least until after January 1, 2025,” DeJoy wrote. “Even then, we will not advance these efforts without advising you of our plans to do so, and then only at a moderated pace of implementation.”

Similar processing and distribution centers in Peoria and Champaign were also informed they would be reorganized as part of a national plan. Mail sorting that has occurred in those areas will be done in the south suburbs of Chicago.

The change means a letter mailed in Springfield to a resident of the capital city would be sent to St. Louis before being shipped back for a local mail carrier to deliver. Still, the Postal Service says it will enhance efficiency and lead to financial savings. That amount across the system is estimated to be as much as $177 million.

DeJoy, in the message to Sen. Gary Peters ( D-Michigan) Chair of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, added the savings won’t be achieved immediately because of the pause.

Local residents and government leaders have raised concerns about longer delivery times and a loss of jobs. The USPS indicated there would be no layoffs, but some jobs would be impacted, meaning an employee might have to move to remain with the agency.

Most recently, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza sent a letter to the Postmaster General. Mendoza pointed out her office sends checks from Springfield to various state vendors, including child care providers. She said any delays could bring hardship to those vendors.

"How can anyone argue with a straight face that sending our mail – two-thirds of which is bound for Northern Illinois – 100 miles south to St. Louis before it can be shipped back north again will not delay delivery to Illinois residents?"

State Senator Doris Turner said the decision will have lasting effects on residents across central Illinois.

“I joined hundreds of residents, postal workers and local elected officials at a town hall on March 26 to share our grave concerns about the proposal. USPS did not listen to our community. This will not only slow down mail delivery time, but also create life threatening hardships for those who rely on the mail service for their medication needs, especially our seniors."

“Springfield is home to Illinois’ state government. Why are we delaying delivery of important documents by sending them to Missouri? This is a poor decision that will affect each and every one of us,” she added.

The USPS has said it will invest in upgrades at the Springfield facility as it transitions to a Local Processing Center. But also said that will be on hold until the changes are implemented.

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