The U.S. Postal Service has begun building Anne Arundel County's second distribution center, on Magothy Bridge Road in Severna Park, as part of a national plan to increase efficiency and cut costs.
The $3.2 million center, where mail will eventually be completely machine-sorted, will serve Severna Park, Pasadena, Arnold, Millersville, Glen Burnie, Hanover and Linthicum Heights.
The Postal Service will continue in those areas out of existing offices, none of which is slated to close, said Bill Ridenour, Pasadena's postmaster.
Now, postal workers sort all mail manually each morning, breaking it down by carrier route. "We're a very labor-intensive industry," Ridenour said. "We're trying to get away from that and go into automation. This will eliminate clerk jobs through attrition."
When the 53,000-square-foot center opens early next year, some 75 workers from North County post offices will staff it, Ridenour said.
He said he expects that number to drop by 1995, when the Postal Service will move to full automation.
As the agency has headed in that direction since 1989, it has eliminated some 43,000 jobs nationally, all through retirements or resignations, said Irene Lericos, Postal Service spokeswoman.
"We have not had to resort to laying off anyone and don't plan on doing that," she said. "For several years, we've been holding off on some positions, knowing automation was coming."
The Postal Service is building another delivery and distribution center in Annapolis. Oak Contracting Corp. expects to complete a $2.9 million, 58,000-square-foot center at Admiral Cochrane Drive and Riva Road by December.
The Postal Service bought 4.9 acres for the Severna Park center from the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Department, Lericos said.