Not in gloom of night

Jennifer Bailey|Commercial-NewsMail trucks lined up at the Danville Post Office on Hazel Street. Some days all the mail can't be delivered by carriers on their routes due to the volume of mail and the early sunset this time of the year.

DANVILLE – It’s very busy this time of year for the U.S. Postal Service.

The amount of mail that has to be delivered doesn’t slow down when daylight savings time comes and mail builds up to be delivered after federal holidays.

As a result, some Danville customers don’t get mail delivered some days.

One of the most recent days, the Monday following Veterans Day, saw Danville mail carriers stop their routes due to darkness and not deliver mail to all customers.

A Danville Post Office supervisor said part of the city didn’t receive mail because it became a safety hazard for mail carriers. With increased mail this time of year with the holidays and a federal holiday, it was double the mail and too much to deliver, the supervisor said.

According to a statement from Mike Cooke, strategic communications with the USPS in St. Louis, Mo., “the post office establishes delivery routes based on the number of deliveries and the average number of mail pieces a route receives, creating an eight-hour day. Because the Postal Service is closed on holidays, that often creates a larger and sometimes double workload for letter carriers to deliver the following delivery day.”

Veterans Day was one of those occasions and Thanksgiving this week will be another.

“Because of daylight savings time, it begins getting darker much earlier which gives our carriers less time to safely deliver in the daylight. Employee’s safety is utmost. We do our best to deliver every piece of mail every day, but if a carrier feels their safety is at stake while making a delivery we trust their judgement on making that delivery that day,” Cooke said in an emailed statement.

He said some Danville carriers were out delivering mail past 8 p.m. on Nov. 13. Some newer carriers unfamiliar with the neighborhoods in which they were delivering were not comfortable delivering house to house in the dark and returned to the station. Deliveries missed were delivered the next day.

Cooke said they apologize for any inconvenience this causes customers.

In the winter time, snow and ice and getting to mail boxes also can be an issue. To help letter carriers deliver the mail, the Postal Service is asking customers to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, stairs and mailboxes.

“Snow and ice make delivery dangerous and slow,” said Danville Postmaster Jill Hubbard in a press release. “Maintaining a clear path to the mail box – including steps, porches, walkways and street approach – will help letter carriers maintain consistent delivery service and help them get those cards and packages delivered in time for the holidays.”

Customers receiving door delivery should make sure their sidewalks, steps and porches are clear. Customers receiving curbside delivery should remove snow piles left by snow plows to keep access to their mailboxes clear for letter carriers.

Delivery service may be delayed or curtailed whenever streets or walkways present hazardous conditions for letter carriers or when snow is plowed against mailboxes.

“The Postal Service curtails delivery only after careful consideration, and only as a last resort,” Hubbard said. “Any curtailed mail is attempted the next delivery day.”

Blue collection boxes also need to be kept clear for customers to deposit their mail and for the Postal Service to collect the mail for delivery. Residents and businesses with collection boxes near their property are asked to keep them clear of snow and ice.

“We want our letter carriers to be safe,” adds Hubbard. “We can only do this with the help of our customers.”

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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