Expensive, brick-encased mailboxes are shaping up as roadside trappings that state highway officials would like to stamp out.
More than just stylish postal portals, the masonry mailboxes are an impediment to snow plows, an obstruction to errant drivers and a potential legal liability, according to the state Department of Transportation.``If you've got a good attorney and your car strikes somebody's mailbox column - and we knew it was there and didn't take it down - we're going to get sued,' said Jack Murdock, the state secondary-roads officer.
Under a policy the state Transportation Board adopted May 4, no brick or stone columns for mailboxes are supposed to be allowed within the state's right of way - typically 25 to 30 feet from the center of a road - on new subdivision roads.
But Murdock said that the policy has been poorly administered or ignored in some of the state's 14 highway divisions. And he's urging the board to strengthen the rules.
Developers have complicated the situation in some cases by requiring, as a deed restriction, that brick or stone columns be placed at the entrance to driveways - and inevitably the mailbox is encased as part of the project, he said.
``You've seen how creative some people can get by mounting their mailboxes on an old plow or a water pump,' Murdock said. ``Well, a plow or water pump is going to give if it's hit, but when it's a 4-foot brick column, the car is what gives.'
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