My passport expired in 2005 and I needed a new one before the Ireland trip in July. After hearing horror stories about long delays last summer that forced people to cancel their vacations, I didn’t want to wait any later than this week, so I went ahead and filed today. Since it had been less than 15 years since my old passport was issued, I was able to file through mail and save a $30 fee for a new application, but still had to pay $67 for the passport itself. I got pictures at Walgreen’s for $8 (not a good picture, but it’s for a passport) and mailed in the application, pictures, check, and my old passport in a padded envelope. They said it should take four to six weeks, so I think they have worked through their backlog.
The State Department’s passport site (doesn’t render correctly in my SeaMonkey browser, but looks okay in Internet Explorer)