Woman in wheelchair fights to move mailbox off highway

CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The speed limit on Alabama Hwy. 155 is 55 miles per hour in front of Penny Franklin’s home. Franklin relies on an electric power wheelchair that tops out at 9 miles an hour.

Right now she says she feels like she’s taking her life and her hands when she goes to check her mail, because she has to cross two lanes of traffic.

Chilton County She thinks that this whole problem can be avoided if she moves her mailbox about 20 feet inside the dirt road driveway for her and her neighbors, but for reasons that are still unclear she says the post office told her that’s not an option

On the outskirts of Montevallo in neighboring Chilton County, Penny Franklin says getting her mail is the most frightening part of her day.

“I’m trying to get my mailboxes moved off of a very busy road in a dangerous curve over into my driveway where it would be safer for me, my children, and the postal carrier,” said Franklin.

She says she talked to her postal carrier and thought everything was fine. They put up a new mail box post and moved the boxes, but Franklin says within days she was told that she would have to move the mailboxes back to one or the other side of the highway.

“I even drew him a map and a little letter that stated exactly where I wanted the boxes, where it would be safe, provide a turnaround spot for the mail carrier in a safe place. And the Postmaster decides that, the boxes have to be on highway 155,” said Franklin.

Penny says that the post office did offer to let her move the mailbox to the other side of the road closer to her driveway, but Franklin doesn’t think that is a solution.

“They want me to put them on this side of the driveway which is even more dangerous because the curve is closer and once a car comes round that curve they don’t have time to stop,” said Franklin.

Franklin’s mailbox and three others are currently clustered along a steep grassy embankment which her chair cannot climb.

She says there is nowhere for her to pull off and precious little room between her and oncoming traffic.

“Cars would be coming around the curve and have actually slammed on brakes, some of them which have even left the road in order to keep from hitting me and there’s only a limited sight distance. It’s a blind curve. And you can’t see any cars coming,” said Franklin.

A Chilton County delivery driver we spoke with says it’s a dangerous situation.

“It very well is because this is a very busy road, always has been and they either need to put shoulders on or switch sides for the mailboxes,” said

Amy Pignataro. “I was born and raised in Chilton County and all my life there’s been a lot of accidents on this road…a lot of traffic, fast people.”

We contacted the a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, Debbie Fetterly, who says they are thoroughly investigating the situation.

By late afternoon Thursday we heard back from another USPS spokesperson Polly Gibbs, who issued the following statement:

“The Postal Service has a very simple process to assist and accommodate individuals that require hardship delivery. This includes submission of specific information to the Postmaster. Local postal officials will reach out to this customer and work with her on this request. Postal management will evaluate the request and make a determination.” Source: Polly Gibbs, Manager, Southerna Area Corporate Communications.

WIAT 42 News relayed the message to Mrs. Franklin and she says she is more than willing to request a hardship delivery. There are multiple mailboxes on the street and she says her neighbors’ children are also at risk due to the placement so she’s hoping they can request a hardship delivery too. Franklin says she will let us know what happens.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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