WASHINGTON - Philadelphia's 30th Street Station is on its way to getting a new name.
The city's rail hub would be renamed "William H. Gray III 30th Street Station" under a bill that passed the House on Monday in a voice vote. The plan would honor the late congressman, who long represented Philadelphia, secured millions of dollars in the 1980s to help renovate the station, and broke barriers as an African American.
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), who succeeded Gray in Congress and sponsored the plan to change the name, said he hoped the Senate would pass the same bill this week, before lawmakers break for their summer recess.
"Not only did he serve as a congressman from Philadelphia who rose to the highest heights in the Congress, but also he was a great proponent of Amtrak, so this was a fitting tribute," Fattah said Monday.
Gray, also a longtime pastor at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia, served in Congress from 1979 to 1991. He died last July at 71.
Fattah praised Gray as a trailblazer - the first African American to chair the House Budget Committee and the first to serve as majority whip, the third-ranking position in the House - and for his push for sanctions against South Africa during the apartheid era. Gray also helped fend off proposed cuts to Amtrak in the 1980s, Fattah said.
The entire Pennsylvania House delegation cosponsored the plan to rename the station. Sens. Robert P. Casey (D., Pa.) and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) have introduced a companion bill in the Senate, though the chamber could be crammed with votes before its August break.
The station opened in 1933 and is Amtrak's third busiest. Last year, 4.1 million tickets were purchased to and from its halls. Fattah said that most people would probably still call it 30th Street Station, but that markers inside would recognize Gray and his work.