Federal authorities say they will conduct a safety inspection of Washington's subway system following a fatal accident last month.

In a news release Wednesday, the Federal Transit Administration said the inspection is intended to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Metro transit network and identify areas where it can improve safety.

The FTA gained the authority to conduct such inspections under a law signed by President Barack Obama in 2012. It has previously inspected the Chicago Transit Authority. The Metro inspection will begin March 2.

One passenger was killed and more than 80 others were sent to hospitals when smoke filled a train inside a tunnel near a busy downtown station last month.

Metro's board chairman, Tom Downs, said in a statement that Metro welcomes the inspection.