Michael Ryan

Did Fort Worth’s full-tilt growth cause the need for an act of Congress?

Development booming in north Fort Worth

Take an aerial tour of the growth in north Fort Worth in the Alliance corridor developed by Hillwood Properties.
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Take an aerial tour of the growth in north Fort Worth in the Alliance corridor developed by Hillwood Properties.

It may have taken an act of Congress to get my mail delivered.

Literally.

Having moved into a brand new subdivision in January, we certainly could understand a delay in mail delivery. Of a few days. Then it stretched into a week. Then another. Then another. Then another. Then another.

It took fully five weeks for the “through-snow-heat-gloom-of-night” crew to find us.

It still might not have been that big a deal. But even with several other post offices much closer to where we lived, we were told that to get our piled-up mail, we had to drive to a fairly obscure little facility near I-35W and I-820 that features a lobby smaller than most of today’s master baths and only a narrow circle driveway to park in.

It was roughly 10 miles from home, and I do mean “roughly.” The last few roads in this industrial area were so pockmarked I almost traded my Corolla in for a Humvee. Plus, getting there at the beginning or end of the day, as working people are apt to want to do, required navigating several bands of rush-hour traffic I otherwise would’ve done my all to avoid.

We called often, trying to be a polite nuisance, though that failed to offer any gentle nudging since, often, no one answered. When someone did, he or she didn’t know when the delay would end.

It’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me or you. But it was maddening, let me tell you, especially while dodging the mail truck just a block over from our house. And, given that we couldn’t justify making the trip every day, were it not for a hyper-organized wife I might’ve gone astray with creditors, utility companies and more.

I hope I was unerringly nice and patient with the folks at that facility, who were dealing with others just like me. That said, we heard oddly varying reasons for the debacle. Your street isn’t on Google Maps. (True enough. But is that now the barometer of existence?) Then it was, well, we need to test the locks on the cluster box. (And this takes how long?) Then it was, well, Fort Worth is growing so fast.

OK, that one I buy. But nearly six weeks? Come on.

At my wit’s end with the U.S. Postal Service, I very reluctantly took the route I’d been hearing and writing about for so long: I sought the help of my member of Congress.

The people at U.S. Rep. Kay Granger’s office didn’t know whom they were dealing with! No, really. They didn’t know who I was or what I do for a living. So they weren’t pandering to the press. They were simply fielding a call from any old – or in my case, new – constituent. It was a good test case.

Despite all the members of Congress I’ve met over the years and across three states, I never resorted to this. I can’t ever remember feeling like a “constituent” until now. But I sure recommend it.

I’m not sure it made the difference, but shortly after reaching out to the local congressional office, not only did the mail deliveries start but one of the real nice guys at the remote postal facility I hope to never to see again called to make sure all was well. He was even apologetic, citing the difficulty of keeping up with the area’s breakneck home building.

Say what you will about our Congress. It won’t be any worse than what I’ve said and written. In fact, I asked in a previous column, rather rhetorically, if we’re witnessing the worst Congress in U.S. history. (Spoiler alert: The answer is yes.)

Yet congressional constituent services is one of the few aspects of the federal government that approximates the responsiveness of the private sector. Granger’s office tells me it handles a robust 800 constituent cases a year, much of them having to do with the VA, citizenship or Social Security.

I do admit to wondering if the Postal Service is as light on its feet as the mail carriers I remember watching as a kid. Are enough resources being diverted to deal with the massive migration to north Texas? What might a private-sector company do to respond to it? I’d encourage officials to think about it.

That said, nearly every public agency, every utility, every home-building or home-delivery outfit in Fort Worth has to be experiencing vertigo from all the demands of fresh families.

We’ll just have to be patient, I guess.

The Star’s Michael Ryan, a Kansas City native, is an award-winning editorial writer and columnist and a veteran reporter, having covered law enforcement, courts, politics and more. His opinion writing has led him to conclude that freedom, civics, civility and individual responsibility are the most important issues of the day.
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