BOSTON (SHNS) – The latest batch of awardees for a state grant program launched last year to help municipalities adapt to the realities of COVID-19 by expanding and improving outdoor spaces includes several communities making changes they describe as permanent.

Polito, who is serving as acting governor while Gov. Charlie Baker is in Colorado for Republican Governors Association meetings, joined state transportation officials in Dedham to announce a total of $6.5 million in Shared Streets and Spaces grants to 78 applicants. She spoke from the outdoor dining area at Washington Street restaurant Oscar’s.

“Something that was thought of as a temporary solution to get us through the COVID times is now being thought of as a more permanent feature to enhance the experience in places like here in downtown Dedham, and also enhance the opportunities for small business owners, like here at Oscar’s,” Polito said Wednesday.

The state received 94 applications for this funding round, she said, and “there’s clearly some more interest in this program.” The program funds both temporary and long-term changes that support walking, biking, public transit, recreation, commerce and civic activities.

Grants awarded for permanent projects include $50,000 for a dining parklet on Medford Street in Arlington; $197,950 to convert Cushing Street in Fitchburg to a pedestrian plaza; and $127,337 for new sidewalks, crosscuts, and curb extensions previously piloted in Montague.