The U.S. Postal Service will freeze consolidations through Jan. 1, 2025, temporarily sparing the Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Facility in Hampden, federal officials announced this week.

Maine’s congressional delegation had fought against the proposed consolidation, arguing the Hampden plan and others like it would hamper mail service, especially in rural areas of Maine and other rural parts of the country.

The Postal Service had proposed converting the Hampden facility into a local processing center, which would have moved outgoing mail processing from Hampden to the Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough, 130 miles away.

“Any consolidation of Maine’s two USPS processing facilities located in Hampden and Scarborough would jeopardize the reliable delivery of mail, including medication for Mainers who rely on mail order pharmacies and deliveries from federal agencies,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in a news release.

Collins said the pause “should not be temporary – it should be permanent. The USPS should abandon these proposed changes entirely until there can be a study that ensures mail delivery will not be harmed.”

Collins had successfully fought plans to close the Hampden facility in 2012.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, introduced legislation that would halt the postal service’s processing center facility reviews.

“I’ve fought tooth and nail to protect rural communities from the restructuring proposed by USPS because I know how Mainers rely on the mail to receive medicine, conduct business, and keep in touch with their loved ones,” Golden said in a statement.

In a letter to lawmakers this week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy wrote that the postal service “needs more time to evaluate” the impacts of consolidation on timely mail service. The USPS launched the facility reviews in 2021.

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