Postal Service moves ahead with Illinois closures

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service said Thursday that it has decided to go ahead with plans to close some of its mail processing centers in Illinois.

The Postal Service says it needs to close more than 200 processing centers and eliminate 28,000 jobs, mostly through attrition and retirement, because it has experienced a 25 percent drop in the amount of first-class mail since 2006. No date is set for the consolidations.

In Illinois, the Postal Service said it plans to move mail processing operations: from Bloomington to Peoria and Champaign; from Carbondale and Centralia to Evansville, Ind.; from Effingham to Champaign; from Quincy to Columbia; and from Springfield to St. Louis.

In addition, the remaining mail operations will be moved from Fox Valley to Bedford Park and originating mail processing operations will leave Cardiss Collins in Chicago for Bedford Park and Carol Stream. A center in Rockford will continue to be studied to examine the possibility of moving its operations.

"The decision to consolidate mail processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure," Postal Service Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan said in a news release. "Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation."

But Sen. Dick Durbin said Thursday that discussions continue about ways to cut costs without closing processing centers.

"I think, if we can come up with a way to save money, keep the post office solvent, and still maintain what I consider to be one of the best services in the world, we need to do it and do it quickly," he told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register Thursday during an appearance in Springfield.

Durbin added later in a statement that he believes the U.S. Senate is close to creating its own alternative plan to save money but offered no details.

The Postal Service has said it plans to close 252 processing centers around the country to cut about $3 billion from its budget. Most of the employees would keep jobs in new locations due to union protections, but jobs cuts would come through attrition as people leave for other jobs and through retirements.

Closing all of them, officials have said, could take several years, though some workers in Springfield were told their location could close by this summer.

Local officials in Illinois and elsewhere have complained about the likelihood that service would slow in some locations.