Imagine a rail line that originates in a densely populated East Coast city and extends to slower-paced stops with plenty of tourist and scenic attractions.

In New York, a passenger connection to New Milford and points north remains a Housatonic Railroad Co. project in search of funding.

In Boston, the Downeaster passenger rail line not only exists, it is currently being expanded to add two stops beyond Portland, Maine. Stations in Freeport and Brunswick are expected to open this fall, according to the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which has a 20-year contract with Amtrak to run its passenger line.

Given western Connecticut's recent snub by state tourism officials in a promotional video, it is important for residents, businesses and elected officials alike to be their own best marketing agents, both for the present and the future.

After all, visitors would be hard-pressed to find a more bucolic setting than Kent Falls State Park or Macedonia State Park in Kent to enjoy a hike and a summer picnic.

Likewise, if folks are in a shopping and dining mood, the village center of New Milford and the center of Kent are among the more popular local destinations.

It is important to note Greater New Milford has a motivated and nearby tourism market in New York City. Extending passenger rail service from Danbury to New Milford -- and ultimately, to Pittsfield, Mass. -- would help tourism dollars reach local cash boxes.

For these visitors, a day trip -- or even better, a long weekend -- to Litchfield County and the Berkshires is the perfect address for an enjoyable escape.

The Route 7 corridor is close enough that New York City visitors wouldn't lose a day traveling to their destination, although we believe train travel is a pleasant part of that experience.

Colin Pease, vice president of special projects for the Housatonic Railroad, estimates extending passenger rail service from Danbury to Pittsfield would take about three years to complete and cost about $200 million.

According to Mr. Pease's figures, the proposed extension would create 733 new construction jobs and 610 permanent jobs along the line.

We believe there is evidence the $200 million investment -- a mix of private financing and public grant money -- is worth the return in jobs, transit-oriented-district development and other economic growth.

Consider, in Saco, Maine, a small community nestled between Kennebunk and Old Orchard Beach, developers have invested $100 million to convert an old mill into a residential, retail and commercial complex within walking distance of the train station.

Likewise, in Old Orchard Beach, a new hotel and residential complex has sprouted up within walking distance of the train station there.

According to the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, ridership has increased 89 percent since 2005 to 475,000 riders in fiscal year 2010.

The NNEPRA helped bolster those numbers by promoting car-free activities for each stop on its Downeaster website.

We believe it is not unreasonable to suggest similar transit-oriented-district development and ridership could take place in Greater New Milford and points north.

It is also important to point out this project does not have to be completed all at once. It could be implemented in phases, with the first phase leading to New Milford, the second phase to Canaan and the third phase to Pittsfield, for example.

Greater New Milford has much to offer those who come to live, work or visit, no matter what state tourism officials say -- or don't say -- in a promotional video.

Passenger rail service would make that statement even more emphatic.