Typical Complaints & City Responses
Mailboxes & Snow Removal
The Department of Public Works strives to provide prompt and professional snow plowing services to the residents of the City. On occasion, mailboxes will be damaged during snowplowing activities.
When it can be reasonably shown that direct physical contact between the snowplow and the mailbox occurred, the City would reimburse the homeowner up to $75 for the cost of repair or replacement. The City has no control over the weight of the ice and snow, so when the damage is from the weight coming off the plow, no reimbursement will be made.
|Why is there a lump of snow in my driveway?||Snow plows typically leave a lump of snow at the ends of driveways as they clear the roadways due to excess snow dispersed from the blade. It is practically impossible to lift the blade at over 40,000 properties across the City. Please do not shovel the snow back into the street. For information about snowstorm activities or reporting a dangerous condition, contact the Public Works Department at (586) 446-2440. Make this a safe winter season and drive carefully.|
|You plow too close to the curb!
||The City plows to the curb to clean the catch basins. This allows water from melting snow to drain and prevents streets from flooding. This also allows the post office closer access to the curb and your mailbox.
|Your driver was going too fast. Slow down!
||The speed is dependent on the weight of the snow, which resists the forward movement of the plow. The goal is to have enough speed to spread the snow when it leaves the plow. If we plow too slow, a high snow bank is formed that blocks driveways that cars cannot drive over. If additional snow falls requiring plowing, an existing high snow bank impedes subsequent plowing requiring even greater speed to move the snow up and over the existing snow bank.
|The snow could not cause that much damage to my mailbox!
||Snow is very heavy, even if it's just a few inches, and usually includes packed snow and ice caused by vehicle traffic. The design of a snowplow is to remove the snow and force it to the side of the road, a large part of which is airborne. A poorly constructed and installed mailbox is no match for the enormous weight of the snow and ice coming off the plow. On major roads such with as many as 5 lanes multiplies the force of the snow.
Preventing Mailbox Damage
A great tip for preventing mailbox damage is to move it back from the curb. We recommend a minimum of 6 inches behind the concrete curb.
Use a wood mailbox post with a perpendicular arm extending out toward the street or that is built in 1 piece. Plastic mailboxes sometimes appear more susceptible to damage. The more surface area you expose to the snow, the more likelihood of damage. Some softer plastic might crack when stressed in cold weather.
Some metal mailboxes are very inexpensive, approximately $6 to $10 and may be very thin. These mailboxes are more susceptible to caving in during inclement weather. Stronger mailboxes survive better. Your mailbox structure needs to be constructed to withstand the force of the plowed snow or ice. Please remember that brick mailbox structures are illegal in the right-of-way so do not install one.
Read the Mailbox Guidelines (PDF) from the U.S. Post Office for more information.