FREDERICKSBURG FREE LANCE-STAR, JAMES BARON
Rep. Abigail Spanberger is pressing the U.S. Postal Service to find out why many Spotsylvania County residents are still plagued by poor mail delivery service, or in some cases, no mail delivery at all.
Spanberger said residents in the 22407 ZIP code mostly served by the Fredericksburg post office at 600 Princess Anne St. continue to be adversely impacted by staffing shortages that have plagued the city post office for months.
“What we know is that they’re down approximately 15 carriers from the previous staffing level of 43,” said Spanberger, a Democrat whose 7th District includes much of Spotsylvania and all of Orange and Culpeper counties. “We’ve heard about the real extensive delays.”
In a Sept. 29 letter to Gerald Roane, district manager of the U.S. Postal Services’ Virginia district, Spanberger sought further information on those staff shortages and asked Roane to identify additional causes for delays in delivering mail to customers.
“For many [constituents], these delays have been the worst since the pandemic began,” Spanberger wrote. “Notably, one constituent reported having not received mail for more than three weeks.”
Spanberger is also seeking answers from Roane on steps post offices in his district should take to expedite mail service, and asked Roane for his assistance in identifying resources he needs to ensure mail is delivered more efficiently and more regularly.
“My goal is to really understand how Congress might be able to help a district manager and right now, I want to know what it is that they may be doing,” said Spanberger. “At delivery time, what actual actions are they taking in Spotsylvania, in Fredericksburg, to speed up delivery time?”
As of Friday, Spanberger had not received a reply from Roane, but said she expects an answer within the next week.
Spanberger said although she is addressing the problem locally, her objective is to take a broader look at the mail delivery problem, beginning with efforts earlier this year.
In March, more 3,700 participants filled out an online survey from Spanberger’s office about postal service delays and services from her constituents. On Friday morning, Spanberger’s office announced it would launch the survey again to gather even more data.
“My goal here is to be productive and proactive,” said Spanberger.
Sporadic mail delivery service has been an issue in the Fredericksburg region for more than a year.
In August 2020, the Falmouth post office in Stafford County was shorthanded and wasn’t delivering mail in a timely fashion. At that time, postal officials said many of its mail handlers and delivery drivers were either on paid leave or recovering at home from COVID-19.
One resident who went to the post office seeking answers said postal workers gave her “15 different reasons” for the delays, including understaffing, employees quitting their jobs, or cuts in overtime.
“It was like one reason after the other,” said Brenda Murray of Peacock Station Drive.
Late last month, the U.S. Postal Service announced it was “on track” for improvements in service performance ahead of the holiday season, including hiring 40,000 new employees for seasonal positions.
“It’s early October, there’s time to get this back on track,” said Spanberger. “There’s time to hire people, there’s time to ensure that the processes are running more smoothly, but that has to be done next month, month and half, otherwise then you’re in the holiday season.”
Although Spanberger expressed appreciation for the U.S. Postal Service and the vital service it provides, she said it must overcome challenges and restore sustained, daily mail delivery service to residents in the region.
“There are a variety of issues they are facing as an organization,” she said, “but the very basics of delivering the mail is something every person should be focused on.”