Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/05/2011 06:45:37 PM PST

The U.S. Postal Service is expecting first-class mail to take longer to deliver under plans to close more than 250 processing centers possibly including the one in Redlands.

The changes would, for the most part, mean an end to next-day mail service and eliminate thousands of jobs across the country.

The site in Redlands, known as the San Bernardino Processing and Distribution Center, employs more than 700 people. The fate of their jobs is not entirely certain as postal officials consider merging the center, on Redlands Boulevard near California Street, with the processing center in Moreno Valley.

A Postal Service spokeswoman stressed that the question of closing the Redlands center is still under study. The head of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce said she is lobbying against the potential closure and worries about the center becoming a large, vacant building.

“This is going to have an extraodinary impact across the board if they choose to close the processing center,” said Kathie Thurston, executive director at the Redlands chamber.

The processing center is near Redlands’ western boundary with Loma Linda. Redlands Boulevard is a major commercial artery for Redlands and Loma Linda alike.

Thurston said she is worried that transferring or laying off the processing center’s more than 700 employees will have a ripple effect as neighboring businesses lose their customers.

The Postal Service is considering the closure of the San Bernardino Processing Center and 251 other centers as part of a plan to reduce operating costs by $20 billion by 2015.

There are 487 processing facilities in the United States. Nearly 30,000 workers may be laid off nationwide as part of the delivery service’s cost-cutting plans.

The Postal Service faces imminent default – this month – on a $5.5 billion annual payment to the Treasury for retiree health benefits and expects to have a record loss of $14.1 billion next year.

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