U.S. Postal Service cuts mean closures, slowdown of mail service

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(AP, WJLA) — Unprecedented cuts by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service will slow first-class delivery next spring and, for the first time in 40 years, could eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.

For the first time in 40 years, the delivery of first-class mail could slow down. (Photo: Associated Press)

The estimated $3 billion in reductions are part of a wide-ranging effort by the Postal Service to quickly trim costs and avert bankruptcy.

They could slow everything from check payments to Netflix's DVDs-by-mail, add costs to mail-order prescription drugs, and threaten the existence of newspapers and time-sensitive magazines delivered by postal carrier to far-flung suburban and rural communities.

It also means smaller post offices, like the 20th Street location in Dupont Circle, are more likely to be eliminated, and residents aren't too happy about those prospects.

"I think it will be an inconvenience," said Dan Snodderly, customer. "There's another one, but it's always crowded."

The cuts will close 252 of the 461 mail processing plants across the country as early as next March.

This also means cutting about 28,000 employees.

Kevin Martucci has been a letter carrier for more than 30 years. Changes have already begun affecting him.

"We're working 10-11 hours days. I want to get home," he said.

Because the consolidations would typically lengthen the distance mail travels from post office to processing center, the agency would also lower delivery standards for first-class mail.

And to raise revenue, the Postal Service has announced stamp prices will go up one penny to 45 cents beginning Jan. 22.

About 42 percent of first-class mail is now delivered the following day; another 27 percent arrives in two days, about 31 percent in three days and less than 1 percent in four to five days. Following the change next spring, about 51 percent of all first-class mail is expected to arrive in two days, with most of the remainder delivered in three days.

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