The Jackson County Department of Highways is asking you to “shake your mailbox” in preparation for weather ahead of us.  By ensuring your mailbox is firmly planted and not wobbly, it has a better chance to survive what the snow plows spray to the roadside.

Here’s JCDOT’s advisory:

mailbox-plowing-snow“A mailbox is the only object allowed by law that homeowners can place in the road right-of-way. The location and construction of mailboxes must conform to the rules and regulations of the United States Postal Service and nationwide standards established by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials,” said Christopher Bolt, Managing Director.

The road right-of-way is typically 66 feet wide, or 33 feet from the centerline of the road. The right-of-way is maintained by county road departments and is used for residential and public utility purposes.

Over the years, a mailbox post can rot or become wobbly. By grabbing and shaking it, a resident can know if it’s secure. Snow coming off a plow going 35 miles per hour has surprising force, and digging a mailbox out and reinstalling it in frozen ground is no picnic.

“Our number-one job is to maintain a safe and efficient road and right-of-way system,” Bolt said. “Responsibility for ensuring a mailbox is strong, goes to the resident.”

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Jackson County Department of Transportation have policies in place regarding replacement of mailboxes that have obviously been hit by a snowplow. However, road agencies are not responsible for mailbox damage caused by standard snow removal operations. JCDOT does have some important advice for residents.

Residents should prepare mailboxes for winter by tightening screws and ensuring the post and box are secure enough to endure large amounts of snow that is thrown. If the mailbox moves when shaken, the box may need to be repaired or replaced before winter.

“We will be out in coming weeks preparing for winter maintenance operations,” said Bolt. “Each fall we find mailboxes that pose a serious roadside hazard to motorists and a liability risk for homeowners. Damage to posts and receptacles can often be prevented by proper routine maintenance.”