SACRAMENTO, Calif. --Two centerpieces of President Barack Obama's economic platform -- "smart" electricity grid technology and high-speed train service -- are still in the formative stage, and it's generally too early to know when and where those systems will mature.

But two government officials speaking Thursday at Government Technology's Conference on California's Future weren't hesitant to talk timelines.

Quentin Kopp, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said some segments of a 200 mph bullet train that's planned for the length of California -- like routes between San Francisco and San Jose, or Los Angeles and Anaheim -- could be ready for passengers as early as 2014 or 2015.

The completed Sacramento to San Diego line could cost approximately $45 billion, Kopp said, with some of that coming from the $8 billion set aside in the U.S. economic stimulus package for high-speed rail. Approximately $12 billion to $16 billion will come from federal grants, he said, in addition to $9 billion from general obligation bonds, and a portion of $1 billion per year over the next five years that's included with Obama's spending plan. Billions more will be raised from private equity.

Despite the state's troublesome budget outlook -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed Thursday selling state-owned assets like fairgrounds and sports arenas to bridge a $15 billion deficit -- Kopp said building the high-speed rail and securing funding is almost a certainty.


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Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor