ANCHORAGE -

Sharp increase in postage rates that recently took Alaskans by surprise may soon be taken off the books.

At the end of January, postal customers in rural Alaska were shocked to see  parcel post mail prices jump by more than 50 percent for large parcels.

Prices increased across the board for packages. The bypass mail system, used extensively in rural Alaska, also saw a price hike.

In a release Thursday Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said recent meetings with the postal service, including a face-to-face meeting with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, worked out a number of mail-related issues affecting Alaskans. Solutions are being built into the Postal Reform Act now before the Senate.

Begich said Thursday that he also secured commitments from Donahoe to reverse the rate hikes in Alaska and expedite the implementation of other fixes as early as next week.

The rate hike reversal will impact “Alaskans who are off the road system and shipping or receiving large packages,” Begich said.

Ernie Swanson, the Communications Programs Specialist for the U.S. Postal Service in Seattle and Alaska, declined to comment on the commitments between Begich and the postmaster general, or when Alaskans might see changes.

The Postal Reform Act includes a roll back of rates on standard shipments to rural communities off the road system, as well as a one-year moratorium on the closure on rural post offices, stations or branches.

In a statement Thursday the U.S. Postal Service said the Postal Reform Act moving to the Senate floor for a vote was a move in the right direction for the organization.

Begich said other agreements for Alaska mail include an agreement to process mail at the Ketchikan Post Office, rather than send parcels to Juneau; an pledge to honor local laws to prevent alcohol from being sent through the mail; and assurances by the Postal Service to begin additional daily flights for bypass mail between Togiak and Quinhagak.