BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – Bridgeport officials say it’s time to get tough on gum control.

A downtown improvement agency is deploying a new weapon in its battle against wads of discarded chewing gum: a GumBuster, a device they first spotted on an episode of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” series.

As one of Connecticut’s poorest cities, however, Bridgeport couldn’t swallow the distributor’s $6,200 asking price for a new GumBuster, generator and other accessories.

Instead, the Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District snagged the machine for $1,300 on the online eBay auction site, bought a $300 generator at Home Depot – and quickly got down to the business of unsticking the sticky stuff.

They say it’s about as easy as, well – walking and chewing gum at the same time.

Workers spray steam over the wads to loosen them up, then dissolve the rest with a solution of soap and water and scrape up the residue.

Robert Keeley, the agency’s executive director, said it launched the gum-control campaign last week and will continue it through the summer in high-traffic areas.

Before acquiring the GumBuster, the agency couldn’t develop a method of cleaning up gum that would not damage the sidewalks, he said.

“We’ve had people come in and test different ideas and different equipment in the past, but this is the only one that actually solves the problem,” he said.

Some downtown pedestrians say it may be a losing battle against chronic gum-tossers, while others applauded it as a practical solution to an everyday annoyance.

“It’ll make the sidewalks look better,” said 25-year-old Cliff Morgan, “and now if you’re wearing new sneakers you won’t have to worry about getting gum all over the bottom.”

Information from: Connecticut Post,

AP-ES-07-19-08 1659EDT

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