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MnDOT reminds residents to repair or replace damaged mailboxes, posts

If you have an old or damaged rural mailbox or one supported by an illegal structure, now is a good time to repair or replace it before the ground freezes, advises the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Every winter, MnDOT receives complaints of snowplows damaging mailboxes, said Dennis Redig, maintenance superintendent in MnDOT's west central district. Most often the damage results from rusted mailboxes and posts that do not stand up to heavy snow thrown by plowing. Redig said each complaint is investigated, and the snowplow operators also report any damage that might have occurred on their route and will repair or replace the structure if damaged by a plow.

The department reminds residents in rural Minnesota that:

•Rural mailboxes are to be mounted and placed according to U.S. Postal Service and federal highway placement standards.

•Mailboxes with damaged or worn latches should be replaced. Wind and heavy snow can cause a mailbox door to fall open if the latch isn't working properly.

•Reflectors should not be placed on mailboxes, especially red and orange colored reflectors since this can confuse a driver with vehicle taillights.

•Reflectors posted near mailboxes and driveways should be blue or clear and posted at least 12 feet from the outside edge of the shoulder and no more than five feet above the ground.

•Ornamental displays, chains and other types of decorations should not be attached to the mailboxes because these add weight to the structure and do not leave much room for maintenance and plowing.

For a diagram of a standard swing-away type mailbox, go to

us/design/standard-plates/english/e9000/s9350a.pdf or for additional information on mailbox placement along state highways, call the MnDOT permits office in Detroit Lakes at (218) 846-7950.