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EXCLUSIVE: Take a look inside the North Syracuse facility that sifts through CNY's mail

It’s 24 acres (that’s about 18 football fields) in size.

NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- If your mailing address has a zip code that starts with 130 all the way to 139, your mail is processed through the Syracuse Processing and Distribution Facility, at the Taft Road Post Office in North Syracuse.

It’s 24 acres (that’s about 18 football fields) in size. Most days they handle between four and eight million pieces of mail, but at holiday time the work load triples up to 12 million on a peak day. They expect that to be December 19th this year.

The Postal Service’s Maureen Marion gave us an exclusive look at how it all works:

Most letters are scanned and sorted by automation, but this is a shrinking part of the business, mostly because we don’t mail as much, as we use more social media.

The growing part of the Postal Service is in packages. That is because our shopping habits have changed: As consumers buy more online, companies are shipping more, so it’s grown to beyond what customers mail.

Marion says that nationwide, the postal service expects to handle 750-million packages this holiday season—that’s up from 650 million last year, and they project the numbers to keep growing in coming years.

Even though the Taft Road facility is highly automated, 650 workers keep it going, and at the holidays that number jumps to over 700. They work in a complex that looks like a fancy game of chutes and ladders. Conveyor belts lift and move bins of mail, much of it arriving by truck and tractor trailer. 85 dock doors are in constant use; the vehicles are loaded and unloaded by workers and hand carts.

It's what’s called a ‘rugged’ operation: Marion says you can write ‘fragile’ on a box, but there is no fragile mail stream, and the machines cannot read ‘fragile’.

So, these suggestions for making sure what you mail gets there, as you’d like it to:

  • Use sturdy packaging. If you don’t have it, you can pick up, or order for free from the postal service (www.usps.com)
  • Write your addresses in blue or black ballpoint pen. Magic marker could run and become unreadable if it gets wet
  • Mail early. Remember, weather affects deliveries. December 19th is expected to be the biggest mailing day of the year.

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