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Old 08-03-2012, 09:42 AM
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Rural Free Delivery--USPS

I'm trying to set up a physical address to have mail delivered (used to be a summer home, has never had a mailbox). I call the post office and am told that I need to call the fire department to get a 911 address first (which should take about a week and will be MAILED to me ) and then I'm told that I can put my mailbox on a post at the end of the road about a mile away from the house.

I'm not a postal expert, but what about Rural Free Delivery? I thought that was the idea that the post office delivered mail to your house no matter where you lived. If they only bring it a mile away, then what about the service is rural or free?

IOW, is this postmaster correct?
Old 08-03-2012, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
If they only bring it a mile away, then what about the service is rural or free?
By the sound of it a mile away will still be quite rural and they aren't charging you to deliver ther right? Sounds bot rural and free.

Last edited by justrob; 08-03-2012 at 09:46 AM.
Old 08-03-2012, 09:49 AM
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the delivery is not to your house but to a point on a public road that the mail route goes down.

you need an address established by the local address assigning agency.
Old 08-03-2012, 09:56 AM
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Then I've misunderstood the term "delivery." Yes, I assume if they threw it out the front door of the post office and asked me to pick it up that could be "delivery" in the broadest sense.

Maybe I'm using it too narrowly as in "personal delivery."

I'm still confused, though. If the box will be a mile away from the house, what does the fire department have to do with it in assigning a 911 location? The house location will be different from the mailbox location. Will they try to put out the mailbox if it catches fire?

Last edited by UltraVires; 08-03-2012 at 09:57 AM.
Old 08-03-2012, 09:58 AM
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Sounds right. I live in a rural area and everyone's mailbox is at the end of their driveway no matter how long their driveway is, 25 ft or many miles. Rural customers used to have to get their mail at the post office so a box by the driveway is better.

In some rural areas the address is really a location coordinate the fire department can use to find your house. If the box is at the end of your drive they'll find your house. It's better than the mishmash of addresses used in the past that had them driving around lost wasting time looking for the emergency.

Last edited by Zulema; 08-03-2012 at 10:02 AM.
Old 08-03-2012, 10:04 AM
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you get an address posted on where your property, or an easement to it, has a driveway that meets a public road. the fire department will know the address and the length of the driveway.

the post office will have you put the mailbox on the mail route that comes closest.
Old 08-03-2012, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Zulema View Post
Sounds right. I live in a rural area and everyone's mailbox is at the end of their driveway no matter how long their driveway is, 25 ft or many miles. Rural customers used to have to get their mail at the post office so a box by the driveway is better.
This is not at the end of my driveway. The house is right next to a public road. The public road extends a mile until it meets another public road. At this intersection is where the boxes are located.

I'm not necessarily complaining, I was just mislead by the term. If a furniture store offered "free delivery" wouldn't you expect it to come to your house and not a mile away?
Old 08-03-2012, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
This is not at the end of my driveway. The house is right next to a public road. The public road extends a mile until it meets another public road. At this intersection is where the boxes are located.
That sounds weird. I've seen this too and thought it was because of private roads. I've seen groups of fire number signs at the end of roads. If you find out why this is I would be interested to know. Where is your closest neighbor and where is their mailbox?
Old 08-03-2012, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
Then I've misunderstood the term "delivery." Yes, I assume if they threw it out the front door of the post office and asked me to pick it up that could be "delivery" in the broadest sense.
A little postal history. It used to be that if you lived in a city, you'd get your mail delivered to you. But if you lived in the country, you had to go to the post office to pick up your mail. This became a political issue in the 1890's as rural people began demanding the same delivery service that urban people had been receiving for decades.
Old 08-03-2012, 10:28 AM
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the post office has a number of mail routes and need to complete them within a workday, allowing for bad weather and road conditions. they might not have time to go down low populated dead end roads, especially if seasonally used. a low populated dead end seasonal road might not get plowed by government at a time when the mail would need to be delivered.
Old 08-03-2012, 01:29 PM
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From this USPS form requesting a change in rural delivery route:

"Proposed extensions of rural routes should ordinarily serve an average of at least one family for each additional mile of travel, including retrace. An extension is generally not approved by the U.S. Postal Service when the road to be traveled is private or is not maintained and in good condition."

If you (and your neighbors) meet the conditions, file it. If not, oh well.

Last edited by ftg; 08-03-2012 at 01:29 PM.
Old 08-03-2012, 04:05 PM
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In Michigan, my mother lived in a house where her mailbox was one of these:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&l...232.88,,0,8.96

It was about a half a mile from her house.
Old 08-03-2012, 04:23 PM
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It's called E911 Addressing. The addresses are assigned by the City or County E911 system which is why the USPS told you to get your 911 address. All the mail you get should now use that address.

As mentioned above, the mailboxes are all together at that point to facilitate speedy and accurate mail delivery. When you put your mailbox up at that point, you will write your assigned 911 address inside/on it.
Old 08-03-2012, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
I'm not necessarily complaining, I was just mislead by the term. If a furniture store offered "free delivery" wouldn't you expect it to come to your house and not a mile away?
Well... for a local furniture store, maybe. But when large freight (such as furniture) is being shipped interstate by truck, then the term "free delivery" often applies only to the nearest loading dock. If you don't have your own dock, you pay extra to have them get it out of the back of the truck.

So the term delivery seems to have different meanings depending on the context.
Old 08-03-2012, 04:37 PM
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in a rural situation each driveway off a public road will have the addresses/fire numbers on signs that that driveway accesses. some smaller public roads may have a sign with all the addresses further down that road, this for fire department use.

the mail boxes get placed on a mail route. you might have your mail box exist alone or you might be clustered with neighbors if within some short distance like within 50 yards. if you are not on the mail route, like down a low population dead end road, then your box may be with others at the intersection with the mail route.
Old 08-03-2012, 06:00 PM
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And if you don't have one of those locking mailbox clusters, you may soon find that you prefer to have your mail delivered to a post office box anyway.

A couple I know who are in a situation like yours (mailbox on a main road half a mile away) realized soon after they moved there that anything that had even the remotest chance of being valuable disappeared from their mailboxes (and forget parcels). After living there a couple of weeks, they went to the post office and got a PO box.

UPS and FedEx deliver to their door. But anything you send them is subject to a "remote delivery area" surcharge. I think it's around $2.75 per item (in addition to the usual residential surcharge).

Last edited by Alley Dweller; 08-03-2012 at 06:00 PM.
Old 08-03-2012, 06:08 PM
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with USPS you can request that anything that doesn't fit your mailbox be held at the PO for you to pickup with a notice left in your mailbox.
Old 08-04-2012, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by ftg View Post
From this USPS form requesting a change in rural delivery route:

"Proposed extensions of rural routes should ordinarily serve an average of at least one family for each additional mile of travel, including retrace. An extension is generally not approved by the U.S. Postal Service when the road to be traveled is private or is not maintained and in good condition."

If you (and your neighbors) meet the conditions, file it. If not, oh well.
Interesting. What is a "family"? If I live by myself, am I a "family"? I calculated the distance from the nearest mailbox (the cranky old lady said she does deliver there) is .044 miles. Plus my two neighbors up here (who don't currently get mail delivered) would join my petition to extend the route. (But they are second homes and not permanently occupied).
Old 08-04-2012, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
Interesting. What is a "family"? If I live by myself, am I a "family"? I calculated the distance from the nearest mailbox (the cranky old lady said she does deliver there) is .044 miles. Plus my two neighbors up here (who don't currently get mail delivered) would join my petition to extend the route. (But they are second homes and not permanently occupied).
I think "family" was used where most government forms would use "household" but in this case maybe "household" could be construed as a "house" whether anyone was living in there or not. I think 1 person makes a family for these purposes.

I wouldn't count too much on second home folks looking good on the form.

Note that it is a petition. No guarantee that it'll be granted, but given the short distance it's worth a try.
Old 08-04-2012, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by ftg View Post
I think "family" was used where most government forms would use "household" but in this case maybe "household" could be construed as a "house" whether anyone was living in there or not. I think 1 person makes a family for these purposes.

I wouldn't count too much on second home folks looking good on the form.

Note that it is a petition. No guarantee that it'll be granted, but given the short distance it's worth a try.
Thanks very much for the info. So there is not a "shall issue" standard, if you will? Who makes the ultimate determination?

This lady is a typical rural postmaster. You could tell in her voice that I was being a pain in her ass by asking to add a box. She was very protective of "her" territory and will be unlikely to mark "approve" on the second part of the form.

What gets me, though is there is an old mailbox still standing right across the "street" outside my window that was last used 20 years ago. They did deliver down here. The postmaster never mentioned that, nor the form you posted.
Old 08-04-2012, 04:07 PM
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the USPS may have different criteria about extending routes with non-permanent homes.

also if a person puts in a mailbox for a non-permanent homes, even though they might have stopped or forwarded the first class mail, it will still get things for 'addressee' and 'occupant' year round. it is their responsibility to remove that from the box, if you create a problem then the USPS can stop all delivery to that address.
Old 08-04-2012, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
I'm not a postal expert, but what about Rural Free Delivery? I thought that was the idea that the post office delivered mail to your house no matter where you lived. If they only bring it a mile away, then what about the service is rural or free?
Rural Free Delivery, AFAIK, was never to the farmhouse door, but to the nearest public road. And maybe not even that, if there was a cluster of mailboxes at the end of a route.

As far as getting an address (around here, we call them "fire numbers"), just think of how good an address like mine once was if you have an emergency?

It was "Musicat, Rural Route 3." RR3 was about 30 miles long, and not in a straight line, more like a gerrymandering drunk. Hey, it worked at the time because everyone knew everyone and we had party lines if we had phones at all. No secrets, no confusion, but that was Then and it is Now.
Old 08-06-2012, 02:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Rural Free Delivery, AFAIK, was never to the farmhouse door, but to the nearest public road. And maybe not even that, if there was a cluster of mailboxes at the end of a route.

As far as getting an address (around here, we call them "fire numbers"), just think of how good an address like mine once was if you have an emergency?

It was "Musicat, Rural Route 3." RR3 was about 30 miles long, and not in a straight line, more like a gerrymandering drunk. Hey, it worked at the time because everyone knew everyone and we had party lines if we had phones at all. No secrets, no confusion, but that was Then and it is Now.
That hasn't been true for many years, here in Minnesota.

As of about 1991 or so, your address would have been "Musicat, Rural Route 3, Box 123."
Old 08-06-2012, 07:24 AM
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That hasn't been true for many years, here in Minnesota.
That hasn't been true for years in Wisconsin, either. My example was from long ago. Long ago, but not forgotten.
Quote:
As of about 1991 or so, your address would have been "Musicat, Rural Route 3, Box 123."
At least that would narrow it down to a specific address. Without the Box number, a fire truck driver would have to know where Musicat lived on RR3 (or look for the smoke).
Old 08-06-2012, 09:01 AM
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That hasn't been true for many years, here in Minnesota.

As of about 1991 or so, your address would have been "Musicat, Rural Route 3, Box 123."
My rural relatives already had box numbers going back as far as I can remember. The big change around then was going to house numbers. Really, really high house numbers.
Old 08-06-2012, 09:34 AM
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the RR as mentioned could be long circuitous and have one route contain portions of a number of public roads. good enough for the post office. with hundreds of boxes you would need a box number or name on each one.

fire numbers existed separately in a linear but not necessarily contiguous fashion at the end of each driveway and not necessarily near mailboxes.
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