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U.S. Postal Service forges ahead with plan to shift Peoria mail sorting to Chicago suburbs

The Peoria Processing and Distribution Center on State Street in downtown Peoria is set to become a local processing center as the USPS looks to shift mail sorting to the Chicago area.
Tim Shelley
/
WCBU
The Peoria Processing and Distribution Center on State Street in downtown Peoria is set to become a local processing center as the USPS looks to shift mail sorting to the Chicago area.

Peoria's mail sorting operations will be moving to suburban Bedford Park under a plan finalized by the U.S. Postal Service, despite considerable skepticism about claims the changes won't impact mail delivery times or jobs.

USPS top brass decided this week to proceed with the plan. Essentially, the plan means a letter mailed from Peoria to a recipient also in Peoria would now be sent 156 miles away to Bedford Park for sorting, then transported 156 miles back to Peoria for an individual mail carrier to deliver.

The Peoria Processing and Distribution Center on State Street in downtown Peoria will be converted into a local processing center that distributes sorted mail to carriers for local delivery. The building is also slated for $8 to $10 million worth of upgrades.

The USPS projects first year savings of $1.7 million to $2.2 million with this change. Projections note a reduction of 23 positions in Peoria and 15 positions added in Bedford Park. The USPS says there will be no career employee layoffs with the move.

The move is part of the wider mail processing facility review underway as part of the $10 billion "Delivering for America" modernization plan led by U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, an appointee of former President Donald Trump.

"This go-forward plan for the Peoria IL facility will help USPS achieve the core goals of our Delivering for America plan: financial sustainability for our organization and improved service reliability for our customers," read the review document.

A map of the current Peoria and South Suburban mail sorting areas. The USPS has decided to move ahead with plans to relocate Peoria's mail sorting to Bedford Park, IL.
United States Postal Service
A map of the current Peoria and South Suburban mail sorting areas. The USPS has decided to move ahead with plans to relocate Peoria's mail sorting to Bedford Park, IL.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria and U.S. Rep. Eric Sorensen, D-Moline sent a joint letter to DeJoy in February pressing for more information about potential job and mail delivery impacts, and what options will be available for Peoria-based employees unwilling or unable to uproot to Bedford Park.

Sorensen, along with fellow Democratic lawmakers U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Mike Quigley and Rep. Nikki Budzinksi, sent another letter to DeJoy last month. They note that one proposal would shift mail sorting in the Quad Cities to Des Moines, nearly 350 miles round-trip.

"The idea that these changes would improve delivery runs counter to reality. Last year, the average on-time delivery of First-Class Mail nationally dropped to 85.4 percent, down from an already historic low of 91 percent the previous year," the lawmakers wrote. "Each year, the 'Delivering for America' plan delivers less mail volume, worse delivery times, and additional costs for the postal service."

On Wednesday, Budzinski introduced bipartisan legislation that would halt USPS processing facility consolidations in "underperforming" postal districts. That would include downstate Illinois, where just 64.2% of 3-5 day first class mail is delivered on time, and 84.7% for 2-day first class mail. The USPS target ranges are 90.3% and 93%, respectively.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.