3 Chicago-area mail centers expected to close

December 5, 2011 6:57:48 PM PST
If you pay bills the old-fashioned way, you might not want to wait until the last minute anymore. The post office hopes to shut down more than 200 mail distribution centers, and that means your snail mail could take a day longer to get where it's going.

The U.S. Postal Service is not ready to cut Saturday deliveries yet, but it is closing 250 processing plants nationwide, including three in the Chicago area. They are Fox Valley in Naperville, Irving Park near the airport and a facility in Gary.

"We have a processing network that was built over time to support overnight delivery of first class mail in metropolitan areas. But we just don't have the mail to keep that network afloat anymore," said Mark Reynolds, U.S. Postal Service Chicago spokesman.

The U.S. Postal Office has been operating in the red for several years. The independent government agency can save billions by shutting down the plants.

E-mail, texting and online bill paying has taken a huge chunk of business away from the U.S. Postal Service, sending the independent government agency to the brink of bankruptcy.

"It's the way of the world. I'm not too upset about it. You can pay all your bills online, it's the way it goes," said Mary Zavett, customer.

"Something needs to be done and we probably won't see the service we've seen before where they have Saturday deliveries," said Chris Callahan, customer.

Beginning in the spring, next day delivery for a first class letter in the same city is history. Plan on two to three days for snail mail, and experts say that is just the beginning.

"Twenty years from now, the post office won't look anything like it does now. It's really hard to predict the picture but their business is going away, so big changes are coming," said Prof. Woods Bowman, DePaul University.

Bowman says big changes does not mean the demise of the U.S. Postal Service, which is good news for customers who still like to communicate the old fashioned way.

"I'm an avid mailer at the post office," said Martha Molden, customer.

"I think it' amazing we can send letter across the country for 44 cents," said Jackie George, customer.

"I still don't mind paying 45 cents to tell mom 'hey, I love you' rather than a cheap e-mail," said Gibran Villalobos, customer.

A first class stamp currently cost 44 cents. On January 22, it goes up by a penny, which many loyal postal service customers say is still a lot cheaper than a private delivery service.

While processing plants and possibly retail stores will close, the postal service says a collective bargaining agreement prevents layoffs. So postal workers will be re-assigned.

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