(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testified last year on Capitol Hill in Washington. On Thursday, Donahoe announced 140 mail processing centers would be closing.

US Postal Service to close 140 mail processing centers

The US Postal Service will close 48 mail sorting facilities in August, and the rest will close next January and February, the Postmaster General announced Thursday. 

The nearly bankrupt US Postal Service is moving ahead with plans to close dozens of mail processing centers, saying it can no longer wait for Congress to decide how to cut postal costs.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says postal operations are simply too big given declining mail volume. The agency will consolidate 140 mail processing centers within the next year, including 48 this August. Most will occur next January and February, after the busy election and holiday mail season.

Another 89 closings would occur in 2014.

"We simply do not have the mail volumes to justify the size and capacity of our current mail processing network. To return to long-term profitability and financial stability while keeping mail affordable, we must match our network to the anticipated workload,” said Mr. Donahoe in a statement. “Our current plan meets our cost reduction goals, ensures seamless and excellent service performance throughout the implementation period, and provides adequate time for our customers to adapt to our network changes."

IN PICTURES: US postal workers deliver in all climates

These consolidating activities will reduce the size of the Postal Service workforce by approximately 13,000 employees and, when fully implemented, will generate cost reductions of approximately $1.2 billion annually. 

“The Postal Service will be communicating with our customers and employees about these changes in great detail,” said Megan Brennan, chief operating officer of the Postal Service “We will work closely with our customers to ensure there are no surprises as we move forward.”

The Postal Service had previously planned to close 252 mail processing centers beginning this summer but was awaiting congressional action.

With Congress stalled over a bill, the mail agency say it is moving forward, but now over a longer time frame.The Postal Service will release a list of the 140 mail processing plants closing by 3 p.m. Thursday on the USPS website. 

Meanwhile, the cities that won't lose their mail processing plants, are breathing a sigh of relief.

For example, the mail processing plant operated by the U.S. Postal Service in White River Junction, Vermont, has dodged a bullet, with the announcement that the facility will remain open, saving 245 jobs.

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch announced on Thursday that the Postal Service plant, which earlier had been threatened with closure, will remain open under legislation the Vermont delegation championed.

Sanders says keeping the center open also will help ensure good postal service in Vermont.

Sanders also is backing legislation to let the Postal Service become more entrepreneurial. He wants the Postal Service to explore new opportunities to increase business, such as expanding digital services, selling hunting and fishing licenses, making copies, notarizing documents, and cashing checks. That measure is pending in the House.

IN PICTURES: US postal workers deliver in all climates

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