Nevada lawmakers renew plea to pause USPS changes affecting Reno plant

A United States Postal Service truck drives in Philadelphia, Friday, April 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Casey Harrison

May 13, 2024

The proposed changes would relocate operations of a facility in Reno to California, which Nevada leaders say would cause delays to the already-strained service and lead to dozens of layoffs.

Nevada officials and federal lawmakers are renewing a request that the United States Postal Service delay its implementation of a “shortsighted” modernization plan they say would adversely affect mail delivery across northern Nevada and much of the US.

In a letter sent on Wednesday to the USPS Board of Governors, Nevada Democratic US Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto joined US Rep. Mark Amodei and Gov. Joe Lombardo — both Republicans — in expressing “serious concerns” about a plan to downsize and relocate part of a Reno USPS facility to California. The letter advised the board to stop Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from following through a “misguided” plan they say could severely impact its ability to service northern Nevada.

“As the USPS Board of Governors, we urge you to conduct your oversight responsibilities to stop this ill-considered plan from going into effect,” the lawmakers wrote. “The Board should not allow Postmaster General DeJoy to proceed with downsizing and relocating Nevada’s Reno P&DC absent critical Nevada-specific data.”

The USPS announced earlier this year it would move forward with plans to repurpose the Reno Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) into a so-called Local Processing Center (LPC). Such a change would shift the plant’s operations from a focus on processing and distributing mail to instead being a sorting center for individual mail carrier routes.

MORE: Rosen slams ‘unacceptable’ plan for Reno mail facility

Should the changes go through, the P&DC in Sacramento, Calif., would be assigned to service all of northern Nevada. But rerouting Nevadans’ mail through a neighboring state is an unnecessary step and would likely cause delays in parcel delivery, the lawmakers argue.

Reno and Sacramento are roughly 160 miles apart but are linked via Interstate 80, which runs through a stretch of the Sierra Nevada mountains known as Donner Pass. Officials say that stretch in particular can be at times impassable due to heavy snow or rain storms as well as traffic crashes.

In March, I-80 was closed for several days after a blizzard brought an estimated 10 feet of snow accumulation. Should an incident like that happen once the proposed changes go through, officials worry it could imperil the timely delivery of things like prescription medication, Social Security checks, and mail ballots, as well as hinder commerce for small businesses.

Among the data the lawmakers are seeking is whether USPS evaluated if it can return mail-in ballots in time to be counted for the state’s elections, and an analysis of how weather or geographic conditions between Reno and Sacamento would impact service or how many jobs would be eliminated by the proposed downsizing. Rosen told reporters during a press call last month up to 63 jobs could be eliminated, but that DeJoy and other top USPS officials have left other questions unanswered despite several inquiries to get them answered.

“If you feel that the Postmaster General has served as an active impediment to conducting meaningful oversight, then it is time to seriously consider who leads the USPS in the future,” the Nevada lawmakers concluded in their letter.

@nevadannews Sen. Rosen blasts Postmaster General on proposed downsizing of Reno mail facility. #senrosen #mail #reno #nevada ♬ original sound – NevadanNews

Rosen and Cortez Masto were also among a contingent of 26 Senators who sent a separate letter Wednesday to DeJoy urging the USPS to pause its nationwide rollout of its “Delivering for America” modernization plan until the regulatory agency that oversees the postal service, the Postal Regulatory Commission, can vet the proposal and issue an advisory opinion.

DeJoy has said the proposed changes are part of a broader 10-year, $40 billion planned overhaul aimed at improving efficiency and eliminating wasteful spending, but the Senators in their letter said they worry the shift has already impacted mail delivery in rural areas and further implementation of the plan could degrade service standards.

“While USPS claims these changes overall will improve service while reducing costs, there is no evidence to the contrary in locations where USPS has implemented changes so far,” wrote the Senators, which included 13 Republicans, 11 Democrats, and two independents.

They continued: “[The] USPS must stop implementation, restore service in those areas where changes were implemented, and fully understand the nationwide effects of its plan on service and communities.”

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

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