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Dozens of Montana USPS drop boxes to be removed

Dozens of Montana USPS drop boxes to be removed
UPDATE: At 3:10 Friday afternoon, NBC Montana confirmed that the removal of USPS collection boxes has been put on hold statewide. A union leader says the decision came after Friday's pressure.
In an email, a USPS representative said, "The normal operational procedure of adding/removing collections boxes based on the analysis of increases/decreases in mail volume have been placed on hold."
We first reported Friday morning that 68 United States Postal Service collection boxes are set to be removed across Montana.
Sen. Jon Tester sounded the alarm Thursday evening, sending a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, demanding answers about how many collection boxes have been removed in Montana and the rationale behind those directives.
Several Missoula USPS collection boxes are set to be removed across Montana. Photo: NBC Montana

“I write today regarding reports of United States Postal Service (USPS) collection boxes being removed from numerous communities in Montana,” wrote Tester. “If true, this seems to be occurring without any transparency or communication with impacted Montanans.”
Sen. Steve Daines issued a statement after writing a letter to Postmaster General to investigate the removal of USPS collection boxes.

NBC Montana confirmed with the Montana State Association of the National Association of Letter Carriers the orders to remove 13 boxes in Missoula, 9 in Bozeman, 3 in Lewistown and 30 in Billings. A source that wishes to remain anonymous sent us the directive for Missoula, which lists addresses in front of the Target store, and several downtown Missoula.
We reached out to the USPS for comment and explanation of the removals.
“For decades, the installation and removal of the Postal Service’s iconic blue collection mail boxes from streets across the country has been based on mail volume received in those boxes,” Kim Frum, a USPS public relations representative wrote. “It is a fluid process and figures can vary from day-to-day. Historically, mail boxes have been removed for lack of use and installed in growth areas.”
Frum added that in the past few years, the USPS has relocated low-use boxes to high traffic areas such as shopping centers, business parks, grocery stores, etc. We responded, asking why boxes in front of a Missoula Target store and other high traffic corridors would have been moved or removed.
This all comes as a battle in Washington over emergency funding for the USPS wages on. There are reports of delivery delays across the country because of new cost-cutting measures implemented by DeJoy, the new head of the Postal Service.
A spokesperson for Sen. Steve Daines wrote, "The senator is looking into the situation and has strong concerns with reports of boxes being removed and impacts to service times. The senator is a strong advocate for the USPS And will continue working to ensure the USPS is working for Montanans." By late Friday morning, the Daines team issued a press release that included a letter to DeJoy, urging for an investigation into these removals.
A spokesperson for Rep. Greg Gianforte sent a copy of a letter he also sent to DeJoy Friday after we reached out.
NBC Montana will update this story as we learn more throughout the day.

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