NORWAY — Some United States Postal Service customers in Paris and Norway are wondering if the postal service cares more about the safety of its drivers than that of its customers.

Recently, customers on the southbound side of the road received a letter from Norway Postmaster Mike Anderson telling them they had 14 days to move their mailboxes across the street. The letter said it needed to be done so that carriers wouldn’t have to make left-hand turns.

“The postal service tries to avoid left-hand turns in that left-hand turn accidents cost the postal service millions of dollars in damages and injuries every year,” Anderson wrote in the letter. “Because of this hazard, we are making changes to the route to eliminate most of the left-hand turns.”

He indicated that once the change was made, the carrier will only travel on the opposite side of the street.

In a letter to the Advertiser Democrat, South Paris resident Tom Hurd expressed his frustration with the decision, saying that he had to move a previously approved five-family mail drop in a subdivision on Clover Lane.

“Having children running across Route 26 to fetch mail is far more dangerous than making a left-hand turn to drop the mail,” he wrote.

Hurd said that he may have solved the problem by having mail forwarded to a post office box, but found out that was even worse, with packages arriving later than expected.

“It’s the most inefficient process they or anybody could possibly have,” he said by phone, adding that a week later, his package had finally arrived. Eventually, he installed a mailbox on the opposite side of the road, but some other residents in his subdivision are refusing to do the same.

Anderson refused to comment, as is the policy of USPS.

“When there is a safety condition that presents a possible risk to our letter carriers, we assess the route and determine if there is a safer and more efficient way to deliver. In some cases, this may mean making changes to the route to eliminate left-hand turns,” USPS spokeswoman Melissa Lohnes said by email.

“Delivery service from a postal vehicle occurs out of the right side of the vehicle. This puts our letter carriers at a disadvantage from the start. Left-hand turns are extremely dangerous and put our letter carriers, and those with whom we share the road, at extra risk of a head-on or broadside collision while making a left-hand turn,” Lohnes said.

“Carriers are carefully trained, but we make it a practice to eliminate left-hand turns whenever possible. While a pedestrian has the opportunity to look left, right and left again before crossing the street and can see oncoming traffic, sometimes our letter carriers cannot.”

When specific local concerns were brought to her attention, Lohnes made inquiries.

“I looked into the situation on Clover Lane and the customers moving their boxes on Route 26, and although this initial move (was made), it was based on a circular view of some of the concerns of traffic on this road,” she said, adding that the review is not complete and further adjustments may be made.

“We’re going to continue to evaluate this and look at the local conditions that are impacting our customers and then may make future adjustments where needed.”

Residents with their own safety concerns can contact the Norway postmaster, Lohnes said.

USPS also announced last week that for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, it lost $5.5 billion in 2014. That represents the eighth straight year the postal service has been in the red. As part of an ongoing plan to reduce costs, Lohnes confirmed that two area post offices will be reducing hours in the new year.

Lohnes said that the Paris Hill Post Office on Tremont Street will adjust its retail service hours to four per day before mid-January 2015. In addition, the Sumner Post Office will modify its hours to six per day by no later than Jan. 10.


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