CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. — A Bay Area bridge that took years to replace is finally open — but that's not the only thing new with the Halls River Bridge in Citrus County.
- Halls River Bridge now dedicated to Jim Bitter
- He was a veteran, activist, and longtime resident in Citrus Co.
- His name will sit atop the new Halls River Bridge
On Saturday, the bridge was the center of special ceremony dedicated to Purple Heart veteran and longtime activist in the area, Jim Bitter.
"It’s been a great honor," said Jim's daughter, Nancy Bitter. “I can’t imagine what he would be thinking, or saying, but it would be something. He always had something to say," Bitter said.
She was one of several folks to share stories of Jim Bitter at the bridge on Saturday. Bitter was a longtime Citrus County resident, well known for fighting to preserve the waterways in the area, especially the Homosassa River.
"He just loved this river. He’d been fishing here since the 50s. He remembered it in its most beautiful, pristine state," Bitter said.
In addition, Bitter was a Purple Heart veteran of the Korean War.
Now, his name will sit atop the new Halls River Bridge.
"He loved this area," said friend Bernie Leven. "And he dedicated his life to preserving it."
The bridge itself is a story, recently opening after three years of construction to replace it. According to FDOT, it's the first of its kind in the country. It was built with an innovative blend of glass and concrete that should keep it from rusting for up to 150 years.
Though Jim Bitter wasn’t there to see the new bridge, his daughter feels he’s keeping an eye on it and the whole river it crosses.
"He would have been fishing today. That what my father would have been doing," Nancy Bitter said.
Jim Bitter passed away in 2016 at the age of 88.
The Halls River Bridge recently opened after construction that hit several delays. It was paid for by a federal grant.