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Town Mailbox Policies

Town Mailbox Policies

Sometimes mailboxes are hit during winter plowing operations, either by our equipment or from the sheer force of the snow/material that is being removed from the roadways. We do realize that it can be an inconvenience. Our drivers make every effort to be careful but at times it is unavoidable. 

For convenience and practicality, mailbox installations have been allowed within the right-of-way of Scarborough’s roadways; however, it is important to recognize that such installations have a few very important conditions:

1) The mailbox must be installed in accordance with applicable standards to ensure that mail can be delivered and that the mailbox does not create an obstacle or safety hazard to those that use or maintain the roadway, and

2) The mailbox is installed entirely at the owner’s risk. In other words, if the mailbox incurs damage during any sort of roadway operations or maintenance, the property owner is not entitled to replacement or compensation. However, it is the Town of Scarborough’s practice to provide a replacement mailbox and post (if necessary) if a resident’s mailbox/post has been damaged as a direct result of the Town’s efforts to clear the roadways. Please note that the homeowner, not Public Works, is responsible for the installation of the new box and/or post. We do not replace any ornate, special box, bracket, or post. The box will be replaced with a standard metal box (white or black) and a standard wooden post. The Town will never reimburse for a replacement. Requests for replacements will not be accepted after May 1st, for the previous season’s damages.

3) If the mailbox is not installed in accordance with the applicable standards as stated above, the owner may be held liable for injuries or damages that may have been incurred as a result.    

The USPS mailbox installation guidelines may be found here. Here are the basics:

General Location: Whenever possible, your mailbox should be located after your driveway opening. This placement improves visibility, minimizes the amount of snow that comes off of the snowplow, and improves the approach for your mail carrier.

Mailbox Support Design: In many cases, it is best to use an extended arm type of post with a free-swinging suspended mailbox. This allows snowplows to sweep near or under boxes without damage to supports and provides easy access to the boxes by carriers and customers. A red reflector attached to the arm of the post closest to the road will help the plow drivers see and avoid your mailbox during winter storms.

Offset: Mailboxes should be set back from the edge of the shoulder – regardless of whether the shoulder is gravel or paved. In other words, the face of the mailbox should be at least one foot back from the edge of the normally plowed surface of the roadway or the face of the curb. Greater offset distances are encouraged whenever possible to allow the mail carrier to get further out of traffic and to further minimize potential damage to your mailbox. Mailboxes in sidewalk areas should have at least 36” behind the back of the box or post, whichever is located furthest from the road.

 

Height: According to USPS standards, a mailbox must be installed with the bottom of the mailbox located between 41” and 45” above the surface of the roadway shoulder. We recommend that this height be closer to the 45” measurement to minimize conflict with the height of the plow truck wing when snow is being pushed back during, or between, winter storms.

Post Size, Type, and Embedment: Mailbox posts must be sturdy enough to hold up the mailbox in all types of weather conditions, however, they cannot be so rugged that they present a hazard to vehicles that inadvertently leave the road. If a mailbox is struck by a vehicle, it must easily break away. Therefore, the following post types are the only ones that are deemed acceptable:

  • 4” x 4” wooden posts embedded 2 feet into the ground.
  • 4” x 6” wooden posts may be used only if the post is drilled through with an appropriate spade bit to create a shear plane.
  • 6” x 6” wooden posts may be used only if the post is drilled through with an appropriate spade bit to create a shear plane.
  • 1” to 2” round diameter steel or aluminum pipe or standard U-Channel post embedded 2 feet into the ground.

Unacceptable mailbox supports include: Anything that is filled with concrete, masonry, and stone structures (e.g. granite), heavy steel structures, and most objects that were intended for other uses. (e.g. antique plows, I-beams, and various other household tools and objects.

NOTICE: Mailboxes, attachments, or support systems not consistent with this policy are considered “Deadly Fixed Objects” (aka. “DFOs”) and are in violation of 23 MRSA §1401-A on state and state aid roads. On local roads, they can be considered “obstructions” and a number of statutes relate to these obstructions. As such, when these installations are recognized by the municipality, the owner will be informed of the hazard and immediate removal will be requested. If the property owner does not comply with this request, the municipality may elect to remove the installation and seek reimbursement from the property owner for all costs incurred.

For clarification, additional information, or questions, please contact pwinfo@scarboroughmaine.org or call 207.730.4402.