The U.S. Postal Service is offering reassurances about jobs, and the quality of mail service in Western Montana, now that it's confirmed a plan to process our mail in Spokane.

U.S.P.S. had been studying the idea of a $12-million plan to modernize the Missoula Post Office for the past few months.

Now, the agency is announcing it's going ahead with the plans, which will keep Missoula as a "Local Processing Center", but send all of the region's mail to Spokane for processing.

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Part of a $40 billion dollar upgrade

Early in 2024, the Postal Service included Missoula on the list of facilities that will be revamped under a massive "investment strategy" to upgrade its networks. The details are part of the "Delivering for America" plan, which will take 10 years to implement.

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The plan drew immediate fire

The local plans include upgrading the Missoula Processing and Distribution Center. U.S.P.S. said moving regional mail operations to Spokane would be more efficient. That poiint was questioned by Senator Jon Tester, and some business and union leaders.

But late Tuesday, the Postal Service said its "thorough business review and solicitation of public feedback" made the case for having mail destined for destinations outside the state handled through the processing operation in Spokane.

Post Service reassurances

In a statement, U.S.P.S. said there will be "no career employee layoffs" in Missoula as part of the change. Further, the agency says the upgrade will include $ 3.9 million to install "autonomous robotic equipment" to help with sorting local mail, and the facility upgrades.

Other improvements will include systems to support new electric-powered delivery vehicles. Customers will see new express services.

In a statement released right after the announcement, Senator Tester called the move a "shortsighted decision", and said he will keep watching to ensure the changes don't further degrade rural mail service.

Montana Senator Steve Daines also released a statement expressing concerns over the change.

“I have serious concerns about mail delivery and potential job losses in MT as a result of this decision and will be pressing the Postal Service for answers and urging them to reconsider this decision,”- Sen. Daines 

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Gallery Credit: Stephanie Gull

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