PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The effort to rename 30th Street station after the late Congressman Bill Gray is inching forward after stalling for roughly three years.
The bill to rename the station to the William H. Gray III 30th Street station passed back in 2014; last month the William H. Grey III Memorial Committee held a press conference demanding progress.
“I think it’s a tribute to the new Amtrak Leadership,” says George Burrell, a longtime friend of the late Congressman who has been part of the Committee for over a year.
Senator Bob Casey recently met with Amtrak Co-CEO Richard Anderson. He issued this statement Friday:
“I was encouraged by my recent meeting with Amtrak leadership about Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. For the first time, Amtrak has committed to implementing the 2014 federal law re-naming the station in honor of the late Congressman William H. Gray, III. While there is still a long way to go, I look forward to working with Amtrak and the broader Philadelphia community to appropriately honor Bill Gray’s legacy.”
George Burrell called the meeting “encouraging” and noted that the Committee and the Foundation to fund the renaming project are looking forward to working with Amtrak.
“There remains work to be done by the foundation and coalition to get some kinds of a memorandum of understanding and a timeline moving forward,” he says.
Gray was the first Black Majority Whip in Congress and served the 2nd Congressional district for 13 years. Burrell says Gray rode Amtrak to Washington daily and his position on the Budget Committee made him instrumental in protecting Amtrak from privatization in the 1980s.
“He had a very long and important history that helped to make Amtrak what it is today,” says Burrell.
Dozens of community leaders appeared at a September 29th Press Conference at 30th Street Station to pressure Amtrak to rename the station. Coalition leaders say they had been meeting with leaders for the agency for over a year and executives offered a plaque, then later a park, to honor Gray. The Committee wants what the bill signed into law requires.
“Bill Gray was a great United States Congressman and a great representative of the city of Philadelphia,” says Burrell, “we need to understand that 100 years from now people will be asking who was because his name is on that station.”
An Amtrak spokesperson sent the following statement in an email received Tuesday:
“Amtrak President & Co-CEO Richard Anderson met with United States Senator Bob Casey to discuss the advancement of naming Philadelphia 30th Street Station in honor of the career and legacy of the late Congressman William H. Gray III. We look forward to working with stakeholders and interested parties in the coming weeks to move this important effort forward.”
Gray was the longtime pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church and later the leader of the United Negro College Fund.
Supporters say they will raise money to help offset infrastructure costs connected with the renaming.
No word yet on the cost of the name change.