FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- If you plan to drive near the riverfront in downtown Fort Smith soon, you'll notice construction crews, bulldozers and trucks carrying dirt spread out across the area.
Crews began dirt and groundwork on the United States Marshals Museum this week.
"We have only one opportunity to get this right folks. This has to be exceptional. 50,000 square feet, state of the art, world class, honors the fallen and honors the United States Marshals Service from inception through generations to come with iconic features on the building and with an experience on the inside of the building that is top notch," said Patrick Weeks, president of the United States Marshals Museum.
Breaking ground in Fort Smith has been 10 years in the making. Crews said the groundwork will take about a month, and then crews will have to press pause on the project to let the dirt settle.
"If you really study the Arkansas River here it's not that different than it was in the 1800s from the view across. There's so much history here. It was the launching point of the U.S Marshals into the Oklahoma territory," said Reese Rowland, an architect working on the project. "We built on that idea as this building launches visually to the west. The idea of a marshals badge embedded in the ground and you see the dirt work going on now to begin that process. It is going to be a very unique structure on to Fort Smith and only to U.S Marshals."
Construction on the actual building is expected to begin in the spring of 2018, and the total project cost is $59 million. The United States Marshals Museum team has raised more that $30 million with $24 million still to go.