Mailboxes in Winter
The biggest complaint we receive in the winter time is a mailbox being damaged during snow removal operations. We certainly understand and agree that is frustrating to find your mailbox in a pile of snow with your mail strewn about your yard, especially if it happens every year or more than once in a year.
Let us assure you that the harm to your mailbox is not intentional but sometimes it is unavoidable. It is more than likely that the damage, removal or complete destruction of your mailbox is due to the snow coming off of the plow striking the mailbox and not the actual plow striking the mailbox.
Why does this happen? There are a few reasons. The first reason is we instruct all our DPW drivers and hired contractors to "push back." Meaning we want them to push the snow as far off the road way as they can. This is standard procedure and it is necessary to maintain the width of the paved travel lanes not only for the current storm, but also to leave as much room to put additional snow when the next storm comes.
Secondly, if the snow is wet it holds more water and therefore weighs more. A storm that occurs at 32 degrees brings much wetter snow than a storm at 22 degrees. The wetter snow has more will do more damage because there is more force behind it.
Thirdly, your mailbox is located too close to the street and/or it has no protection. The US postal service requires that the mailbox be 6-8 inches from the road if you have a raised curb. It says to contact your local postmaster for their guidelines if you don't have a curb. Check with the postmaster to see how far back from the road your mailbox can be. It varies from street to street and even address to address. The further off the road the mailbox is, the better. If you can't put it more than a couple feet off the road consider placing it next to a utility pole or tree to give it some protection.
Another option is to get a PO box at the post office. They never get hit with snow :-)
Who is responsible to replace my mailbox? Our policy dictates that the Town is not responsible for replacing mailboxes damaged or destroyed during snow removal operations. The reason for this is that the mailboxes are located within the road layout of each street-essentially they are on Town property. The same applies to any personal property: shrubs, landscaping, fences, irrigation heads, stones, basketball hoops etc. We do understand that it puts the resident in a difficult position. The mailbox has to be close enough to the road for the USPS to deliver mail and that puts it on town property so the town isn't obligated to repair it if it gets damaged.
There is no easy solution and though we sympathize with you and your damaged mailbox, it would be irresponsible and hazardous to make mailbox preservation a priority during winter storms.
As always, feel free to call us at the office if you have any questions.