The Streets Division's mandate during Snow and Ice Season is to clear as much snow as possible from Madison's streets. This means we will always plow as close to the curb as possible. The Streets Division takes great care not to damage property within the City right-of-way; however, mailboxes do occasionally get damaged.
In the majority of cases, the City has repaired and replaced mailboxes that were claimed to have been damaged by its snow removal vehicles provided those mailboxes have been installed according to U.S. Postal Service guidelines.
Q. What do you do to inspect my mailbox? A. We dig the snow out in front of the mailbox to reveal the curb. We then use a measure guide and level up from the curb face. If your mailbox is still on the post and the guide touches the mailbox, it does not meet USPS regulations. If your mailbox is not on the post, we measure back to the base of the post and subtract the length of your mailbox to determine how far back the face of the mailbox was. If the measurement is less than 6”, it does not meet USPS regulations.
Q. My mailbox has been in the same place for years, why did it get knocked off and broken now? A. This could be due to any number of factors; direct contact with a plow or snow removal equipment, weight of the snow windrow (snow exiting the plow), age of the post/mailbox, or improper placement.
Q. Why is the placement of my mailbox important? A. A mailbox that is too low and/or too close to the curb line (see USPS requirements) becomes a “target” for snow removal equipment or the snow windrow. Plows are designed to avoid contact with mailboxes that are installed according to USPS regulations. Setting your box to height regulations and far enough back on the curb will minimize or eliminate any possible damage from snow removal operations.
Q. I didn’t install my mailbox. A. Regardless of who installed the mailbox, it does not eliminate the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure box placement meets USPS requirements.
Q. Why hasn’t my postal carrier said anything about my mailbox not being installed properly? A. Good question and one that should be directed to your local post office. We’ve been informed that most postal carriers won’t comment on mailbox placement until they can’t get to your mailbox. The Customer Service Manager at the Post Office can be reached at (608) 246-1319 or (608) 245-6095.
***Additional information: Adding a newspaper box to the bottom or side of your mailbox increases the surface area of the mailbox. During sub-freezing temperatures, plastic mailboxes and/or posts become brittle and will break or crack easily with very little force.