For convenience and practicality, mailbox installations have been allowed within the right-of-way of Maine’s roads; however it is important to recognize that such installations have two very important conditions:
The mailbox is installed entirely at the owner’s risk. In other words, if the mailbox incurs damage during any sort of highway operations or maintenance, the property owner is not entitled to replacement or compensation. In fact, if the mailbox was not installed in accordance with the applicable standards as stated above, the owner may even be held liable for injuries or damages that may have been incurred as a result, and;
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 highway.
Damage to Mailboxes
This is a common problem and a source of much confusion. Each street has a public right of way (ROW); this ROW may extend 6 to 10 feet or more beyond the paved surface. In most cases people do not know this exists or they simply ignore the fact and plant or place objects in the ROW.
Generally speaking, the Town is not responsible for any type of damage to any item including mailboxes located in this area. Residents should review their property records and become familiar with actual boundaries. Mailboxes should be placed as far back from the road as practical, set at a height of 42 in. and equipped with reflectors on all sides. It is also prudent to check posts for rot or deterioration, particularly at the base to insure they will not break under the weight of snow.
Our plow drivers are warned to take all precautions to avoid striking mailboxes with the wing of the plow; however, the Town plows over 140 miles of roads through significant storm conditions and, occasionally, some damage is likely to happen. In the event your mailbox is damaged by a Town plow we ask you to make any needed repairs.
The Town will not replace or reimburse for regular or custom made mailboxes, ornate posts or granite posts, etc., or existing mailboxes with rotted posts or in obvious poor existing condition. State of Maine law views mailboxes as an encroachment in the public way put there at the Owner's risk and municipalities are not legally liable for any damage or repairs to mailboxes due to plowing operations.
Below are some tips for mailbox placement to help reduce the chances of damage during winter plowing:
- Place reflective material on the side of the box visible to approaching traffic, also, 4" high letters to identify the address is recommended to assist emergency vehicles.
- Mailbox post size must not exceed 4" by 4" for a wooden post or 2" diameter for a steel pipe post for roadside barrier safety. Posts that are more substantial in construction are considered "deadly fixed objects" and are not permitted within the Town Way.
- Mailboxes should be installed at least 42 inches high to provide clearance for the plow wing as shown in the picture on the right. We recommend the use of an extended arm type post with a free-swinging suspended mailbox as shown on the picture to the right. This allows snowplows to sweep near or under boxes without damage to supports and provides easy access to the boxes by carrier and customers.
- For uncurbed roadways set the mailbox back at the far edge of the road shoulder to provide the maximum possible roadway clearance (2+ feet). For curbed roads the face of the mailbox should be 1 foot back from the curb face.
- Below you will find a sketch showing the recommended location for your mailbox. Placing the mailbox on the side of your driveway away from approaching traffic will allow our driver to properly clear the roadway and to get as close as possible to your mailbox to minimize the amount of shoveling you will have to do to clear the mailbox for the postal carrier.
Your participation and cooperation in complying with the above will be greatly appreciated by your rural carrier, postal service and the Town of Gorham Public Works Department.