‘Sticky situations’ lead to downtown Myrtle Beach sidewalk improvements

Crews work to clean gum-filled Myrtle Beach streets

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Chew, toss and throw... that’s what many people have done along Ocean Boulevard when it comes to their chewing gum.

It’s a problem that the city of Myrtle Beach has been left to clean-up.

Parts of the strip are covered in gum while other parts have already gotten the full package when it comes to how the city’s looking to clean up the pesky little spots.

Houck Contracting was hired by the city to clean up gum that’s stuck on the sidewalks along 14th Avenue North to 9th Avenue North and alleyways between restrooms.

“The chewing gum’s been down for a lot of time, years and years, been walked on a lot been baked in by the sun,” owner of Houck Contracting Randy Houck said.

Director of the city’s downtown development office, Lauren Clever, said the changes are needed.

“I really believe if there’s an area that’s been kept up and maintained then it gets treated differently,” Clever said.

Clever said this is something the city’s worked on for a while and started by looking at Plyler’s Park. Some visitors have already noticed the changes

“It looks really nice, really nice,” Judy Bailey said.

Houck’s crews start with heavily cleaning the sidewalks. They wait 24 hours for the cleaned spot to dry and then they pressure wash it.

Houck said the tip of the pressure washer takes off the top of the chewing gum, but it still leaves some shadows. He said the shadows, or little black marks, are what the city wants to be removed as it’s stained up the sidewalks.

So after they’ve pressure washed, they add their first coat of sealant, then crews come out with scrappers.

The scrappers get out the shadows and you’ll see white marks from where it’s been removed, then they’ll put another coat of the sealant and after about a week the white spots are gone.

One of the coolest parts about the sealant is water rolls right off versus collecting in a pile like the spots that haven’t been sealed yet. Houck said this will help to make it easier when cleaning up gum in the future.

Funding for the project came from the sale of a property. City leaders budgeted about $126,000. Clever said this project alone costs a little over $121,000.

She also said city leaders are looking at ideas for maintaining the sidewalks for the future.

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