BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The battered 100th Street bridge may be half-closed after being hit at least six times this year, but it is now West Michigan’s hottest bridge thanks to social media.
Saturday was the date for a joke event that called for wrapping the often-struck overpass in bubble wrap.
It was an event that had law enforcement issuing a serious warning.
The creator of the event, Mike Niemchik, is like most Facebook users and loves a funny dose of fake news.
“There are people saying, ‘Don’t they realize it’s not gonna work?’ Yeah, I do get it. It’s not gonna work,” Niemchik said.
But when he threw together a quick Photoshop creation, he had no idea what would come next after the bridge was hit again on Friday. The bridge has its own Facebook page where it pleads for people to stop hitting it.
It also has a jealous neighbor, 92nd Street, who accuses the bridge of being the one at fault.
“I travel that route every day,” Niemchick said.
Niemchick said the bridge is a topic of conversation in the area where he lives near Wayland.
“Once in while people will be like, ‘Did you hear? They hit the overpass again,’ and I’m like, ‘This is getting ridiculous,” he said.
Using his skills as a graphic designer, Niemchick created his little masterpiece just over a week ago.
“It was just a hack job, I took picture of the bridge, I took a picture of the bubble wrap and spliced them together,” Niemchick said.
The sentiment struck a nerve and within eight days, more than 4,000 people said they were interested or were going.
“Obviously… Well, I thought it was obvious that it’s not a real event, we’re not really expecting people to show up with bubble wrap,” Niemchick said.
Then the Michigan State Police issued a press release warning people that they could face trouble if they participated in any bridge hijinks.
“I can’t tell you how surreal it is to see a headline that says, ‘Michigan State Police are asking people not to bubble a bridge,’ that’s not satire,” Niemchick said. “Unbelievable.”
The story went international.
“I’d like to think the world is laughing with us and not at us,” Niemchick said.
He said he is grateful that police told people not to show up.
“It actually took the heat off because I’m thinking to myself as we’re getting closer to this, ‘How am I gonna say we can’t go now?'” Niemchick said.
He said he has no plans for any other social media shenanigans, but says he is glad he did this.
“In serious times, it’s good to see something absurd be spread around,” he said “It makes me happy.”
In the meantime, he will wait like the rest of us to see what happens next at 100th Street.
“I’m hoping it does not get hit again, we’ve developed a soft spot for this bridge, we’re rooting for it,” Niemchick said
MDOT officials told 24 News 8 the overpass will be raised to 16 feet, a two-foot raise to the current height of 13 feet 11 inches.
But they haven’t said when it will happen, so we will see how long before it’s hit again.