Snow Removal Notices

Mailboxes Damaged During Snow Removal

During and after significant snow storms, highway agencies, in the course of plowing, receive phone calls regarding damage to mailboxes, either from snow plows directly or from the force of snow being thrown by the plows. If such damage is indeed caused by snow removal, it is not done intentionally but is an unfortunate consequence of snow removal.

As far as the particular agencies replacing damaged mailboxes, it must be pointed out that there is no statutory or legal authority that grants a property owner or resident along a public highway any right to place a mailbox in a highway right-of-way. It is understood, the owner must have a mailbox in the right-of-way, by law to cause delivery of the mail, which may give the owner an informal license: but, in no way does this endow said owner with any legal rights in the highway when needed for highway purposes.

  • Quoting from the case of Van Wyck vs. Lent, “The highways of the state are for and devoted to public travel and the whole public have right to theur use in their entirety and when obstructions to public travel are found within their bounds, commissioners of highways are clothed with power to remove them without waiting for the slow process of law, even though travel be not absolutely and entirely prevented”.

Thus, when the necessity of keeping the highway open, conflicts with individual’s reception of the mail, the latter must stand aside. The owner might even be compelled to remove the box under Highway Law #319. 
(Parts of the above are excerpts from an informal opinion by the Attorney General, dated 2/28/66.)

The Depositing of Snow on Highways or Shoulders

Section 1219 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law and Section 214 of the Highway Law of New York State, specifically prohibits the placing or leaving of snow, ice or other substance, upon any highway (which includes pavement, shoulders and ditches). 

In the last few years, the practice of plowing or depositing snow from private driveways or private property onto the highway has increased significantly, especially after roadways have been cleared and snow pushed back behind the shoulders by Highway Agencies. The intent of this notice is to point out the possibility of serious accidents as a direct result of the plowing of snow onto a public highway: and , the fact that it is contrary to law, and the person or persons responsible for said plowing and/or depositing of snow upon the roadway may be liable to a fine of $1000.00 per day, per occurrence, for each day the occurrence remains uncorrected.

As a result, should these practices occur, police agencies will be notified of such occurrence(s) with the intent that summonses will be issued to the responsible person or persons.