The U.S. Marshals Museum was meant to be in Fort Smith, says U.S. Rep. Steve Womack.

The 3rd District congressman for Arkansas spoke to reporters and U.S. Marshals Museum staff and board members Tuesday at the construction site for the facility being developed on Riverfront Drive.

Dirt work began earlier this month and is expected to be completed by the end of October, according to Michael Troeger of CDI Contractors. Concrete pad construction will then begin in the spring after the dirt has time to settle. The museum is expected to be completed in time for a Sept. 24, 2019 opening to coincide with the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service.

“You can look high and low throughout the country and try to find a more suitable place to put the Marshals Museum and you’re not going to find a place more suited than Fort Smith, Arkansas,” Womack said.

The congressman went on to say it was his opinion there was also no more suited place in Fort Smith than on the banks of the Arkansas River.

“It forms the gateway to the West that gave the Marshals Service its identity here in Fort Smith,” Womack added.

Recalling a U.S. Mint coin that became a fundraiser for the museum’s construction, Womack said he spoke for former U.S. Representative and now-Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, former U.S. Representative and now U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross and current U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman in saying that “everyone of us are focused on making sure this project happens on time.”

“So we anxiously await the fall of 2019, people coming to Fort Smith for the sole purpose of seeing this beautiful new museum,” Womack said. “It’s big for Fort Smith, it’s big for Sebastian County, it’s big for the state of Arkansas, and it will be big for the United States of America.”

After a four-year campaign in the early 2000s to win the rights to build the museum in Fort Smith, in January 2007 former U.S. Marshals Service Director John Clark announced the decision that Fort Smith would be the home of the U.S. Marshals Museum.