Bennet applauds pause on Grand Junction USPS center consolidation

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DENVER (KDVR) — The plan to consolidate part of the Postal Service’s processing network in Colorado will be paused until at least January 2025, according to a letter from U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to Michigan U.S. Sen. Gary Peters.

In a letter sent May 8, Peters led a group of 25 other senators, including U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, stating that the group found the potential USPS location consolidations across the country would disrupt regular delivery service in many areas. The legislators called on USPS to pause all changes, pending a full study of the plan.

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Bennet and U.S. Sen. Michael Hickenlooper, both Democrats, also addressed the postmaster in April, reporting concerns that the Grand Junction processing and distribution center’s consolidation with the Denver center would negatively impact mail delivery speeds and add to existing workforce challenges.

The plan would require any mail sent from one Grand Junction address to another Grand Junction address to be sent to Denver, then back to Grand Junction — over 500 miles round trip, without accounting for potential inclement weather and the ongoing workforce issues within Colorado’s postal services.

DeJoy pauses consolidation plan after senators’ letter

On May 9, DeJoy responded with a letter discussing the senators’ concerns and agreed to pause moving processing operations until at least Jan. 1, 2025. He said that even then, he would not advance the plan without advising the senators. However, he asserted that the senators presented several misconceptions in their letter.

“We do not see these planned actions as at all consequential to service; rather, they are important elements of achieving a network that can provide greater service reliability in a cost-effective manner,” DeJoy wrote. “The career workforce will not see layoffs, new equipment will be installed, the facilities will not close, deferred maintenance will be performed, and working conditions will be substantially improved.”

He also noted the concern of turnaround mail being moved to a processing facility at geographically more distant locations.

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“In all cases this is a distinct minority of volume (usually less than 15 percent),” he wrote to the senators. “These actions will enable us to more efficiently handle most of the mail that is not turnaround mail, while still ensuring that we provide timely delivery for turnaround mail within established service standards.”

DeJoy also said the plan would have saved the USPS $133 million to $177 million annually.

Bennet applauded the pause of the plan Thursday in an X post.

“I’m pleased by Postmaster DeJoy’s announcement that @USPS will pause changes to processing facilities across the U.S., including in Grand Junction. I’ll continue to work with USPS to ensure they address the potential effects on local mail delivery, especially in rural areas,” Bennet said.

Consolidation latest of Colorado’s mountain mail worries

Colorado’s mountain mail has been an issue for years. In December 2023, the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General’s report on mail service in Colorado’s mountain towns showed unreliable and inadequate mail service, with many delays and gaps in service for rural areas. The audit found that the mountain towns experience fewer on-time deliveries, especially for package deliveries, and inadequate management oversight created struggles in hiring, retaining personnel and communication.

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The audit showed that of the 13 locations surveyed, 12 were short-staffed for carriers and/or clerks, and some post offices had as much as 25% of their carrier positions vacant.

In March 2023, DeJoy met with Hickenlooper and Bennet. During that meeting, the postmaster committed to improving service quality in Colorado.

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