White House press secretary Tony Snow said Thursday morning that while the deficiency status may not mean a bridge needs to be replaced, it is up to an individual state to deal with aging infrastructure.
"This doesn't mean there was a risk of failure, but if an inspection report identifies deficiencies, the state is responsible for taking corrective actions," Snow said.
President Bush also addressed the collapse and offered condolences but jumped off those sentiments to implore Congress to pass critical spending bills that would address some of the nation's infrastructure deficiencies before breaking for the August recess.
Many survivors compared the collapse and subsequent wreckage to an earthquake or the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Nevada Torrance, of Duluth, Minn., was driving in his car with his family when the 40-year-old bridge began to go. "It was a matter of two or three drops," Torrance told ABC News. "We would drop and then pause, drop and then pause."
Lynn Luban was captured on the Army Corps of Engineers video running from the collapsing bridge. She immediately called 911 and said the sound of the structure crashing into the river was enormous. "I've never heard that sound," she said. "I'd equate it to a train or a tornado or something."
Among the vehicles that safely came to rest on a collapsed section of the bridge was a school bus filled with children. They were seen exiting the rear of the bus; none of the children were seriously hurt.
The Coast Guard halted boat traffic on the Mississippi River Wednesday night for five miles to the north and south of the collapse.
Families have gathered at the Minneapolis Holiday Inn hoping for word on missing relatives or friends. At least six families were at the hotel this morning, according to officials, while others have reached out to authorities regarding missing loved ones.
The bridge, the state's most heavily trafficked, carries more than 100,000 vehicles each day and sits 64 feet above the river's surface, according to Chris Krueger, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.
At least 79 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment.
ABC News staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.