Thursday September 15, 2011 | 02:18 PM

The U.S. Postal Service is eyeing closing or consolidating nearly 250 mail processing facilities nationwide, including the one in Hampden, near Bangor.

The Postal Service, which has been dealing with well-publicized fiscal problems, said in a release today that, "Faced with a massive nationwide infrastructure that is no longer financially sustainable," it is proposing "sweeping changes designed to save the organization up to $3 billion a year by cutting its network of processing facilities by over half and adjusting service standards."

The proposals being studied in addition to closing the processing facilities include "reducing mail processing equipment by as much as 50 percent, dramatically decreasing the nationwide transportation network, adjusting the workforce size by as many as 35,000 positions, and revising service standards for First-Class Mail," the postal service release said.

The Hampden facility is the only Maine facility on the list released today.

“We are forced to face a new reality today,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, in a statement. “First-Class mail supports the organization and drives network requirements. With the dramatic decline in mail volume and the resulting excess capacity, maintaining a vast national infrastructure is no longer realistic. Since 2006, we have closed 186 facilities, removed more than 1,500 pieces of mail processing equipment, decreased employee complement by more than 110,000 through attrition and reduced costs by $12 billion.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, is one of several lawmakers working on legislation to revamp the postal service and put it back on a path toward solvency.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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