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February 28, 2022

Trone urges action on slow mail

Credit: Cumberland Times-News, Brandon Glass

CUMBERLAND — U.S. Rep. David Trone is requesting the United States Postal Service examine processing practices and take quick action to resolve postal delays in Western Maryland.

The Cumberland Customer Service Mail Processing Center was consolidated in 2012, with the idea that the facility’s mail processing operations would transfer to the Johnstown Processing and Distribution Facility in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

“According to a USPS study done at the time, the transfer was expected to result in diminished mail service and increased transportation costs,” Trone wrote in a letter to USPS Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb.

Now, all mail from Western Maryland — zip codes beginning with 215 and 267 — goes to Baltimore to be processed.

While Johnstown is around 70 miles from the hubs of Western Maryland, the Baltimore Processing and Distribution Center is almost 80 miles farther.

“This means that for a resident of Cumberland, Maryland to send a letter across the city, it must travel nearly 300 miles round trip before it can be processed and delivered to its intended recipient,” wrote Trone. “In fact, my caseworkers in our Cumberland District Office have resorted to asking their counterparts in Gaithersburg to mail privacy release forms and other important documents to constituents in Western Maryland. Because letters from Gaithersburg aren’t sent to Baltimore to be processed, they will actually arrive in Cumberland faster than if they originated in Cumberland itself.”

The congressman participated in a field hearing Feb. 14 of the House Oversight Committee’s Government Operations Subcommittee on postal delivery delays throughout the state. The issue of why Baltimore is the primary processing center for Western Maryland came up.

Specific inquiries included in the letter include: wether “using the Baltimore service center is more cost effective than using a closer mail processing facility,” if “the excessive transportation costs incurred under the current arrangement are sustainable,” if “closing the Cumberland Processing Center has actually resulted in tangible cost savings, given the new transportation arrangement to Baltimore,” and if “service to those living in Western Maryland has been adversely affected by both the closure of the Cumberland facility and the decision to route all mail through the Baltimore P&DC.”

“Right now, Western Marylanders are suffering from unacceptable delays of their packages, prescriptions, and paychecks,” Trone said. “We would ideally like to either see the re-establishment of a local processing center or the routing of Western Maryland’s mail through an existing but more proximate one, because it’s clear that the current situation is leading to untenable delays.”