During the winter season, various Niagara County municipalities, in the course of their work involving snow removal and/or ice control, encounter many problems. Two of these directly involve the public. The first is the depositing of snow on highways or shoulders by private individuals, and the second being mailboxes damaged during snow removal.
According to Michael F. Tracy, deputy commissioner of the Niagara County Department of Public Works, Section 1219 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law and Section 214 of the Highway Law of New York state specifically prohibit the placing or leaving of snow, ice, or other substance upon any highway.
"In the last few years, the practice of plowing or depositing snow from private driveways or property onto the highway has increased significantly, especially after roadways have been cleared and snow pushed back behind the shoulders by highway agencies," Tracy said. "There is a possibility of serious accidents as a direct result of the plowing of snow onto a public highway. The person or persons responsible for said plowing and/or depositing of snow upon the roadway may be liable to a fine of $1,000 per day, per occurrence, for each day the occurrence remains uncorrected."
Tracy notes that police agencies will be notified of all occurrences and summonses will be issued.
He adds that, during and after significant snowstorms, highway agencies in the course of plowing, receive phone calls regarding damage to mailboxes, either from snowplows directly or from the force of snow being thrown by plows. If such damage is, indeed, caused by snow removal, it is not done intentionally but is an unfortunate consequence of snow removal.
"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," Tracy said. "When the necessity of keeping the highway open conflicts with individuals' reception of the mail, the latter must stand aside. The owner may even be compelled to remove the box under Highway Law No 319."