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Postal Service may close 11 Mass. sites

Associated Press | 8/5/2009, 6:35 a.m.

Facing staggering financial losses, the United States Postal Service is looking at closing as many as 1,000 offices across the country, including 11 in Massachusetts.

The post office has been struggling with a sharp decline in mail volume as people and businesses switch to e-mail both for personal communication and paying bills. The agency is facing a potential loss of nearly $7 billion this fiscal year.

Post officials sent a list of nearly 700 potential candidates to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) for review.

Local offices under review include:

• Cambridge/M.I.T. – Cambridge

• Babson Park – Boston

• Boston College – Boston

• Boston University – Boston

• Faneuil Hall – Boston

• Logan Airport – Boston

• Soldiers Field – Boston

• Tufts University – Boston

• New Bedford/Mt. Pleasant – New Bedford

• Springfield/Brightwood – Springfield

• Springfield/Colonial – Springfield

More may be added. The list is available here.

Postal Vice President Jordan Small told a congressional subcommittee that local managers will study activities of approximately 3,200 stations and branches across the country, considering factors such as customer access, service standards, cost savings, impact on employees, environmental impact, real estate values and long-term Postal Service needs. There are 32,741 post offices across the county.

No changes are expected before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

“We anticipate that out of these 3,200 stations and branches, under 1,000 offices could be considered as viable candidates to study further” for closing, Small said.

Just last week, the General Accountability Office (GAO) added the Postal Service to its list of troubled agencies, saying it faces serious structural financial challenges.

“Every major postal policy, from employee pay, to days of delivery, to the closing of postal facilities must be on the table,” the GAO said.

Congress is considering a bill to change the way the post office funds its retiree health benefits over the next two years that could save it $2 billion annually.

The post office also filed a petition with the independent PRC indicating that managers are looking at closing many post offices to save money.

In addition, Postmaster General John Potter has asked Congress for permission to reduce mail deliveries from six days per week to five.

Last year, mail volume fell by 9.5 billion pieces to a total of 203 billion pieces. It is expected to fall by another 28 billion pieces this year.

The Associated Press and WBZ-TV contributed to this report.