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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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Collateral damage: Man complains 'speeding' snowplows demolish mailboxes

Updated 11:15 am, Thursday, February 6, 2014

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  • These three mailboxes on Greens Farms Road, near the entrance to a private road, were damaged by wet snow thrown by a passing plow. The box sitting on the snow was knocked off its post. Resident Steven Shore, who took this picture, said he counted 25 damaged or destroyed mailboxes in the neighborhood. Photo: Contributed Photo / Westport News
    These three mailboxes on Greens Farms Road, near the entrance to a private road, were damaged by wet snow thrown by a passing plow. The box sitting on the snow was knocked off its post. Resident Steven Shore, who took this picture, said he counted 25 damaged or destroyed mailboxes in the neighborhood. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Wednesday's storm, besides fresh snow cover, gave fresh evidence of what a Greens Farms Road resident says is a continuing cleanup problem in his neighborhood caused by the town's "speeding" snowplows.

Steven Shore says Department of Public Works plows routinely hit the road "at speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour in a 30-mile per hour zone," ramming into mailboxes and knocking them down. Today, he said he counted 25 mailboxes either damaged or destroyed by the plows, including his. "It's in three pieces," he said, adding the post it sat on "was snapped in two."

"It takes a lot of force to do that," he said.

Shore said that it's the "excessive speed, combined with the newer designed, curved snowplow blades" that throw "powerful jets of snow" that cause the damage. "If the snowplows were going slower, this wouldn't happen," he said. "I would accept it if they were going the normal speed."

Shore said he initially witnessed the cause of the mailbox destruction firsthand while returning from an overnight flight a couple of years ago. "It was a long snowy ride coming home," he said. When he got near his home about 6:30 a.m., there was a snowplow "just hauling ass," he said, "I got behind it and followed him," he said.

What he saw was "a trail of flattened mailboxes" including his.

"Today was the third time this has happened," he said Wednesday, adding it cost him $250 to have the mailbox installed initially and he replaced the post himself the last time. "The mailbox is still intact," he said.

Shore said he's contacted town officials and the Police Department about the matter.

"I have contacted DPW in the past but they simply directed me to the town website where -- in pro forma language -- the reader is informed that the town takes no responsibility," he said.

Public Works Director Stephen Edwards said mailbox damage during snow cleanup operations does sometimes happen, especially when the snow is as dense as was Wednesday's.

`"I know there were a lot of mailbox casualties today and I stand behind those hit by our snowplows," Edwards said. He said a number of the mailboxes, however, succumbed to the heavy weight of the snow.

He said he's aware of Shore's concern and has seen the photos he's taken. "No doubt there were an awful lot of mailboxes knocked down," Edwards said.

But, he added, he strongly contests the allegation by Shore that excessive speed by the plow trucks was involved. "Mailboxes were knocked down, but I don't support the claim of excessive speed as the cause," he said.