Mailbox Damage and Snow Removal
Mailbox damage is one of the unintended consequences of any municipal snow removal program. Mailboxes installed along roadways are a challenge for both homeowners, mail carriers and plow operators. The plow operators need to clear the roads, the mail carriers want to reach the mailboxes and the homeowners do not want their mailboxes damaged.
In most cases, mailbox damage is caused by snow being pushed into the township right-of-way by truck plows. Although the township plow drivers make every effort to avoid such damage, it is sometimes unavoidable.
To guard against mailbox damage, we ask that residents ensure proper mailbox placement within the township right-of-way.
Municipal snowplows are typically 42” high. That means that anything lower than this height is subject to the greatest force of plowed snow. The drivers of snowplows are instructed to push the snow back to the curb or edge of the road and the end of the plow can overhang the curb by as much as 12”. This is done to widen the roadway to make room for subsequent snowstorms.
The safest place for a mailbox and crossmember is above the height of the plow (42”) and (8”- 12”) back from the curb face or road edge. This allows the snow to pass under the mailbox and prevents the plow from striking the box. It should be noted that during periods of limited visibility, plow drivers may not be sure exactly where the roadway ends, and the lawn begins. If the edge of your lawn is subject to plow damage, the installation of reflective markers can guide the plows. Also, if a mailbox is set too far back from the edge of the road, lawn damage can also occur.
Another tip worth mentioning is the attachment of the mailbox to the cross member. Any object subjected to force must flex or give way. A mailbox and post are no different. When heavy wet snow strikes the side of the mailbox something has to give, many times, it is either the cross member or the post. One way to reduce damage is to allow the box to separate from the member. This can be done by reducing the number of fasteners or “wedging” the box onto crossmember. Thereby allowing the box to be dislodged before the post or crossmember is damaged.
Some custom and manufactured post assemblies withstand the forces of plowed snow for many years. Metal post assemblies (steel, cast alloy, aluminum) hold up well. In the plastic category, Rubbermaid offers a one-piece product that with its rounded shape seems to deflect the force of the snow.
For the do-it-yourselfers, simple works well. A single post (4x4 or 6x6) with a mailbox attached to the top of the post will last for years. For those wanting to be more creative, a traditional post, cross arm and support can benefit from a spring or hinge breakaway device to provide some give.
As a last resort, the Township does provide a reimbursement for damaged mailboxes and restores damaged lawns in the spring. It is our hope that with the information provided we can reduce the number of damaged mailboxes and lawns.
For more information about mailbox reimbursement call the Public Works Department at 976-448-2069.
The county roads in our township are listed below. If your mailbox is damaged and you live on a county road, please call the County of Morris at 973-631-5394 to report the damage.
- Berkshire Valley Rd.-from W. Dewey to Rt. 46
- Center St.
- Howard Blvd.
- Kenvil Ave
- Lakeside Blvd.
- Landing Rd.
- Mt. Arlington Blvd.
- South Hillside Ave.
A few suggestion to help our plow drivers-
When shoveling driveways, if possible, clear the end (along the road) last to allow time for crews to complete the pushing back of snow, thus avoiding the frustration of re-shoveling.
If early shoveling is unavoidable, place as much snow as possible on the “downstream” side of the driveway. The “downstream” side refers to the side opposite from which the plow will approach (it is usual to the right when facing the road from your property). This will decrease the amount of snow re-plowed into the driveway opening.
Relocate all basketball hoops away from the roadway. These present a hazard for our road crews as the trucks run the plows against the curb and are not looking or expecting these hoops which typically are caught on the mirrors or the truck bodies. Property owners will be held liable for the damages to Township equipment caused by these hoops.
Whenever possible, place trash and recycling containers when they are easily accessible, but off the street, in the event that snow clearing operations continue.