As originally constructed in the 1975 it ran north–south over the river, connecting Footscray Road to the West Gate Freeway and Montague Street. The low height of the bridge above the water resulted in the closure of a number of the river wharves on the upstream side. However, with the Melbourne Docklands redevelopment of the 1990s, Footscray Road was closed as a through route and rebuilt as Harbour Esplanade. To replace the through route, Wurundjeri Way was constructed to the east. To connect to this new road Flinders Street was upgraded, and the north end of the Charles Grimes Bridge was rebuilt on a curve to connect to it. Reconstruction started in June 1999, and was completed by 2001.
The bridge superstructure consists of five 33.5m long main spans the river, with five smaller spans between 12m and 24m in length over the existing wharf and riverbank. Each of the bridges carries four traffic lanes in one direction, and a footpath. Computer analysis was required during design due to the complex geometry of the spans.