A few months ago, the letters “O-N-D” – each maybe a foot high or so – hung high up on the front wall of a warehouse building at Richmond Marine Terminal.

Maybe there was a freight company operating at the site with that name – OND Inc.?

Nah. A closer look showed the stubby remains of 11 letters, apparently lost over time, that once preceded the three left standing.

Any “Wheel of Fortune” watcher could put it together: “PORT OF RICHMOND.”

The Richmond Deepwater Terminal, as it was known before being dubbed the Port of Richmond, has seen its share of hard times, perhaps reflected in those 11 missing letters in the signage.

Within the past year or so, though, there’s a fresh breeze of sorts blowing through the place.

After signing a five-year lease of the facility in late 2010, the Virginia Port Authority signed another one early last year, enabling it to invest in and operate the facility – rebranded as Richmond Marine Terminal – for 40 years, through 2056.

The signing of the longer lease was also marked by the unveiling of a big new piece of equipment – a $4.2 million, 350-ton crane, bought with money from a federal grant, that will speed up container handling.

Also, a dozen ocean carriers now offer bills of lading directly to Richmond, maybe the maritime freight equivalent of having an airline boarding pass right through to one’s destination.

Pieces are slowly beginning to drop into place.

“We know the Richmond Marine Terminal has not had any capital expenditures for a long, long time,” John Reinhart, the port authority’s executive director and CEO, said in the first State of the Port address held in Richmond last year, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report.

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By Robert McCabe
The Virginian-Pilot


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