Postal Service to press forward on plans to overhaul Grand Junction mail

Postal Service States Lawsuit
Nati Harnik/AP
In this Aug. 18, 2020, file photo, mail delivery vehicles are parked outside a post office in Boys Town, Neb.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday delivered the news that a controversial plan to retool mail delivery in Grand Junction is moving forward.

The plan involves changing the Grand Junction facility from a regional processing center to a local processing center, which would have the result of sending local mail to Denver and back again before delivery. 

“The investment in the Grand Junction facility is a part of the Postal Service’s 10-year Delivering for America (DFA) plan to improve organizational and operational processes and actively make the Postal Service an efficient, high-performing, world-class logistics and delivery provider,” the press release said. 

Postal Service officials were in Grand Junction in February to take public feedback on the issue, where they heard concerns about delivery delays, how the new system would affect mail-in ballots, and concerns about employment. 

USPS says there will be no layoffs of career employees, but they have said some positions will need to be reassigned. 

Shane McDonnell, vice president of the Western Colorado Area Local, said he’s skeptical about the claim that there will be no career layoffs. He believes it obscures significant employment changes to come. 

“There's going to be some, they keep saying no career layoffs, but that means that the non-career employees, which we have quite a few of those, will be laid off more than likely. And the career employees, they need to find some sort of landing spot for them,” McDonnell said. 

The Postal Service has said more than 30 career positions will need to be reassigned. McDonnell thinks the impact of that will have downstream effects on non-career workers. 

“No matter what, there's a large impact for the employees,” he said. 

Grand Junction Mayor Anna Stout said the city will have to make plans to adjust once the plan takes effect. While the postal service has said there won’t be delays in service, Stout said no one locally is buying it. 

“We're really disappointed with how this really seemed to be a facade of public engagement and that the impact on rural Colorado — if it was taken into consideration — it has not been well communicated to those of us here in communities like Grand Junction and surrounding areas.” Stout said. “And being told that there won't be a significant impact is frankly insulting to all of us who know how to do math and understand that when mail that gets sent from Grand Junction has to go all the way to Denver and come back along I-70, with its frequent closures, that is going to add days to delivery time, plain and simple.” 

In addition to local opposition, the plan drew pushback in Congress, with both of Colorado’s U.S. Senators writing letters opposing the plan. Sen. Michael Bennet joined 19 other Democrats in asking for the Postal Service to reconsider elements of its Delivering For America plan. 

A second letter from Bennet and Sen. John Hickenlooper noted the significant delays that can be seen on Interstate 70. 

“During the winter and spring, the I-70 corridor often experiences delayed travel due to hazardous winter conditions and mudslides,” the letter read. “We are concerned that USPS’s plan could impact local mail delivery when these delays occur, which is alarming when constituents already suffer from inconsistent and unreliable mail service.” 

For its part, the Postal Service has said it expects to maintain service standards for local mail and that the plan will allow the broader network to operate sustainably. The press release also points to multi-million dollar investments to modernize the Grand Junction location. 

“The Postal Service will invest up to $6.3 million in the Grand Junction LPC, which will result in expanded and streamlined package and mail processing and distribution capabilities for the facility. These investments include $2.4 million for modernization efforts and deferred maintenance,” the release said.