USPS considers closing Waterloo, CR mail processing centers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

USPS considers closing Waterloo, Cedar Rapids mail processing centers

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The US Postal Service is looking to slash services in an effort to save money.  The postal chief has been warning that the service is losing nearly $3 billion a year, and could go broke without making major changes.  Part of how the Postal Service plans to cut back could involve closing two local mail distribution and processing centers.

Hundreds of pieces of mail get sorted at local mail processing and distribution centers every day.  But the need for big budget cuts at the US Postal Service could force processing centers in Waterloo and Cedar Rapids to close.

"We piqued in 2006 nationwide with more than 213 million pieces of mail.  Now that figure's down last year in 2010 to 171 billion pieces.  Clearly, we don't need as much mail sorting operations, equipment in those networks, those buildings as we did just a few years ago," said Richard Watkins, USPS spokesperson.

Without local sorting centers, even if you're mailing something to a friend down the street, it would go to either Des Moines or the Quad Cities first, slowing delivery.

"With the proposed change, we've got new standards that would become instead of 1-3 days, 2-3 days--meaning that on average, customers would no longer receive mail the day after it was mailed," Watkins said.

About 100 people work in the Waterloo distribution center and 200 more are employed at the distribution center in Cedar Rapids.  Not all, but many, of those employees would be out of a job if the facilities close.  It's a tough pill for the Postal Service to swallow, but one that's desperately needed to save money to keep the service afloat.

"We don't take this lightly, of course.  These are our co-workers.  They've been an integral part and continue to do a wonderful job.  But the harsh reality is, people aren't mailing as frequently as they used to.  And we've simply got to live within our means," said Watkins.

The studies on whether it's possible to continue mail operations without the Waterloo and Cedar Rapids distribution centers is expected to wrap up early next year.  And public input will be collected before any final decision is made. 

In addition to closing the Waterloo and Cedar Rapids facilities, the US Postal Service says it's considering closing dozens of mail processing and distribution centers nationwide.  In all, the closings could save $3 billion. 

On top of closing mailing processing centers, the US Postal Service is also considering closing some post office branches and eliminating Saturday mail service.

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