Constructed in 1933, the Craigflower Bridge remained substantially unchanged from that date. The original Bridge was a timber trestle with 20 spans and the length of 116 metres and a width of 8.5 metres. The deck and sidewalks were reinforced concrete, supported by timber stringers on a timber piled sub-structure. The bridge deck consisted of two 3.35 metre travel lanes, narrow sidewalks on each side (0.9 metres in width) and no provision for bicycles.
The sidewalks were protected from vehicles by a steel guardrail at the inside edge of the sidewalk, with the original steel lattice rail on the outside edge. The narrow sidewalks were a major impediment to safe, comfortable pedestrian movement across the bridge. The width would only allow for one pedestrian at a time, making it uncomfortable for pedestrians to pass each other and virtually impossible for an individual to pass someone walking with a stroller, walker or in a wheelchair. The problem was compounded by the bridge length and the occasional use of the bridge by herring fishers.
The Craigflower Bridge was designed when trucks were much lighter than present day. In the 1930s, trucks averaged around 18 tonnes, while today they can easily be twice that heavy. As a result, the bridge had some damage consistent with overloading and some piles and pile caps had begun to rot.
In 2009, the District of Saanich and Town of View Royal funded a detailed assessment of the condition of the bridge. The inspection showed a substructure failure consistent with an overloaded condition. The consultants were asked to determine the bridge’s load capacity in accordance with the Canadian Bridge Code. This analysis led to the conclusion that load restrictions were necessary, and as a result planning for repairs was halted and the option of replacing the bridge was reconsidered.
Admirals Road connects the municipalities of the District of Saanich, the Town of View Royal and the Township of Esquimalt and crosses the Gorge Waterway on the Craigflower Bridge. It carries about 15,000 vehicles per day, including almost 1500 trucks, and has been designated as a Strategic Corridor by the Capital Regional District. Admirals Road is:
- an important community connection,
- on a proposed Frequent Transit route,
- a strategically significant bike route,
- a primary commuter route,
- an important route for goods movement, and
- the main access route to CFB Esquimalt including Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific.