|(a) Criteria. The department may expend funds to perform studies and analyses of project alternatives that include the development of an HOV (including a HOT lane), toll, or exclusive lane on the state highway system for the purposes of congestion mitigation as described under this subchapter. In performing studies and project planning, the department will consider whether a potential HOV, toll, or exclusive lane will: (1) maximize the effectiveness of existing roadways; (2) increase the number of persons moved on a roadway; (3) improve transit operating efficiency; (4) limit any negative effect on general purpose lanes; (5) provide connectivity to or enhance the effectiveness of existing HOV, toll, or exclusive lanes; (6) enhance the effectiveness of a conforming metropolitan transportation plan or transportation improvement program for a metropolitan planning area that includes a geographic area that is classified as nonattainment, near nonattainment, or maintenance for air quality; (7) enhance the effectiveness of an approved congestion management plan for a geographic area that has been designated as a transportation management area; and (8) provide a more cost-effective alternative to capacity improvements for a given corridor. (b) Project development. After completion of all necessary studies and project planning, the department will submit a proposal to the commission requesting the designation of one or more lanes on a state highway facility as dedicated HOV, toll, or exclusive lanes, and requesting approval to design and construct an HOV, toll, or exclusive lane project. In determining whether to make a designation and grant approval, the commission will consider the criteria prescribed in subsection (a) of this section. As part of the designation and approval process, the commission will consider the studies and planning documents prepared by the department under subsection (a) of this section.