SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A construction project in central Sioux Falls has some heavy equipment in unexpected spots right where residents used to see a river. The 6th Street bridge that was previously spanning the Big Sioux River just south of the city’s namesake is gone; heavy construction equipment now works in the middle of the river.

“Right now they’ve got just the one segment that’s open for river flow. There’s really not a lot of flow right now with it frozen,” said Wes Philips, principal engineer and project manager with the City of Sioux Falls. “But then we are putting in large pipes underneath that causeway. Once it does melt, the water will flow underneath those pipes.”

Philips says the cold we’ve felt is ideal.

“The river flows are low because of the drought and also just because a lot of it’s frozen, so that really makes it a lot easier to get in the river right now and do the demolition work,” Philips said.

The $21.8 million dollar project called “Unity Bridge” includes more than just a new bridge; there will also be upgrades to the road and utilities. As KELOLAND News has previously reported, the original cost was notably lower: an $11.9 million estimate. Philips says a detailed cost reevaluation aims to drop that $21.8 million figure.

“We’re looking at saving up to about 1.5 million through our discussions,” Philips said.

He says the work will be done in August of next year.