GARY, Ind. (CBS) — The U.S. Postal Service is preparing to close its mail processing center in Gary, Ind., in a move that will cut about 156 jobs in the area.

The Postal Service plans to fold the Gary operations into its processing and distribution center in southwest suburban Bedford Park, for a savings of more than $13 million.

The closure of the Gary facility was anticipated two months ago. It is among 252 of the nation’s 461 mail processing centers that were marked for being shut down because of the postal service’s financial woes.

But the official announcement of the planned closure Thursday came after a five-month study that included a public hearing in which U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson testified against the closing.

Postal officials say closing the Gary mail processing center at 1499 Martin Luther King Drive would save about $13.2 million. It is expected to mean the loss of about 156 local jobs. About 30 percent of the workers are from Gary and the rest from across Northwest Indiana.

Those workers include clerks who process mail on machines, maintenance workers, mail handlers, truck drivers, and building and custodial workers.

In addition to the Gary facility, the cuts to the Postal Service would also close the East Aurora processing center, and the Irving Park processing center, at 11560 W. Irving Park Rd. near O’Hare International Airport.

Operational changes are also expected to the Main Post Office at 433 W. Harrison St.

Also as a result of the proposed $3 billion in cuts, first-class mail that used to take just one day to deliver will take two to three days. Stamps will also rose in cost by 1 cent to 45 cents at New Year’s.

The Postal Service later agreed to delay the plans, and allow Congress to pass legislation to help keep the service from going bankrupt.

Postal Service spokeswoman Mary Dando says the closings will take effect unless Congress approves five-day mail delivery and proposed changes in retirement funding for postal workers.

The Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Watch & Listen LIVE