Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Thursday, February 6, 2014

UPDATED: Has your mailbox been trashed by a DOT plow?

You can get compensation
By Will Collette

I was very proud of my custom-designed, “plow-proof” mailbox built and designed by Mike DiRobbio. After years of trashed mailboxes, finally I had one that would survive. In fact, it even made it through Winter Storm Nemo last year.

But this year’s series of storms, particularly the ones over the past week, were too much for even a “plow-proof” design. Our mailbox was trashed on Monday, as were lots of others all along Route One.

Wednesday’s storm added more busted up mailboxes, although a quick temporary repair job by Mike DiRobbio held up during that storm. Our next door neighbor lost a box on Wednesday.

Route One now looks like the RIDOT plow guys caught Olympic fever and decided to play snowplow giant slalom, using mailboxes as the ski course gates. If you’ve ever seen slalom, you know those gates take a beating.

However, if you live on a state roadway, like Route One, that is maintained by RIDOT and you lose your mailbox, you can get some compensation.

RIDOT offers two options. They can either give you a free mailbox of the type they install when they do road work. You can see a lot of these up and down Route 91. Or, you can get up to $50 to either repair or replace your mailbox on your own.

My mailbox survived Nemo without a scratch.
I’m committed to keeping Mike DiRobbio’s creation, even though we discovered its vulnerability, so I’m going to go for the $50 reimbursement. 

The vulnerability to my mailbox set-up is torque when the crossbar gets hit, either by the plow blade (which is hard to do, since the box is set back) or a ton of heavy, wet snow. The crossbar twists and twists the post holding up the whole box. On Monday, that torque split the post right up the middle.

Mike is working on a replacement post and is also thinking about ways to provide it with some flex so it doesn’t get wrecked again.

If you want to talk to Mike about getting your own specially designed mailbox, give him a call at 714-5016 or 315-2448.

So, if you have had mailbox damage from RIDOT plowing, here’s what you do to get compensation.
Write a letter to RIDOT describing what happened. Just the facts…the date, the nature of the damage, etc. Make sure you include your name and address. I suggest adding a phone number and e-mail, just in case there’s a question. I will be including a couple of my photos, the ones that you can see gracing this article.

If you intend to replace or repair the mailbox yourself, say so in your letter and include your receipt for your costs. If you want the RIDOT free replacement mailbox, say so although if that’s your choice, you may want to call so you can get the ball rolling more quickly.

The very helpful RIDOT person I spoke to is Arlene Nelson at 734-4842.

Send your letter and receipt to:

360 Linden Avenue
Warwick, RI 02888
ATTN: Mailbox claims

If this doesn’t work out, contact Rep. Donna Walsh at 523-2199 or e-mail her at Since Donna has been voted out, try Rep. Flip Filippi, if you can find him.